Need Chimney Sweeping Services in Northern VA, Maryland, or the DC Area? Book With Us

Regular chimney and fireplace sweeping services are an important part of maintaining the value of your home and chimney. Sweeping involves removing soot, creosote, and other built-up materials, all of which could eventually cause a fire hazard or gas leak in your home. 

Winston’s Chimney Service has been sweeping chimneys and fireplaces in neighborhoods throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC since 1978. We understand your concerns about your home, and we vow to treat you and your property with the utmost respect and the care you deserve.

If you need chimney services completed, don’t put it off. Get an appointment booked with our techs today.

We Offer a No-Mess Guarantee

The number one concern most have about having their chimney swept is the potential mess involved. We get it. Having one area of your home cleared out, only to be left with a messier living space as a result, isn’t something anyone wants. Fortunately, when you work with us, this isn’t something you’ll have to worry about.

Rather, our chimney sweeping process protects your home, ensuring your belongings and furnishings stay looking clean, smelling fresh, and free of damage.

What’s our sweeping process like?

  1. We lay tarps in front of the fireplace to protect your carpet and floor, then set up a large vacuum to collect the soot and creosote accumulated during sweeping.
  2. We sweep the inside of your chimney, from the firebox floor to the chimney top – and, if possible, from the top down as well.
  3. We clean, inspect, and adjust the damper and damper assembly.
  4. We use brushes on rods to sweep the flue, then use hand brushes for the firebox and smoke chamber. This is when we turn on our large vacuum to control the debris.
  5. We do an inspection of the outside of the chimney, checking the mortar work, brickwork, and crown, then inspect the flue interior as well.
  6. If there are any damages or needed repairs, we’ll document these on video or with digital photos that can be sent to you via email.
  7. When we are finished we will leave you with a copy of the written evaluation or, in some cases, send you a Word document or pdf file via email.

How can I prepare for my chimney sweeping appointment?

The two biggest things we ask when preparing for your appointment are:

  • Do not use your fireplace or wood stove 24 hours prior to our arrival. This will ensure everything is fully cooled down, so that our techs can complete the job as safely as possible.
  • Clear a 6-8 foot space in front of the fireplace. If needed, move furniture, plants, knick knacks, etc. well away from the fireplace. This ensures our techs have plenty of room to work with, and it guarantees your belongings stay safer too.

Also, if you have pets, be mindful of keeping them away from the work area or put them in another room if you feel they may be aggressive or protective of your space. Ready to get started? Call now or request an appointment online. We’d be happy to hear from you.

How Do Regular Chimney Sweepings Prevent Chimney Fires?

This is something you’ll hear from sweeps time and time again – book regular maintenance to avoid chimney fires. But how exactly does this help?

Well, sweeping a chimney is a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Debris, creosote, and soot gather in the flue and clog the vent over time, and all of this buildup combined with the high temps from your fireplace can cause these materials to combust. Regular sweepings or cleanings remove the debris, protecting your home from fire hazards in the process. Creosote is especially threatening and is the leading cause of chimney fires. Unfortunately, its presence is unavoidable if you’re burning wood, so – again – booking those regular sweepings is a must.

Additionally, these services give our professional CSIA-certified chimney sweeps the opportunity to check for broken bricks, corrosion, liner issues, and other conditions that can contribute to dangerous fire circumstances. So, be proactive and take measures to have your chimney swept regularly to save on time and money, and to keep your household better protected.

Burning chimney fire billowing out of the chimney burning the chimney cap as well.

Ready to schedule services? Book your appointment with us today.

How Common is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From Chimneys & Fireplaces?

Carbon monoxide poisoning from chimneys and fireplaces is, unfortunately, more common than most people think. The colorless, odorless gas is exceptionally dangerous since it’s difficult to detect and can cause permanent damage (or even death), and it can leak into any house that has a working stove, furnace, or fireplace where fumes are created without proper ventilation. 

To keep your home – and those in it – safer, carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on each floor of the home and regularly inspected to ensure that they’re functioning properly. Additionally, all chimneys, including gas or oil venting appliances and fireplaces, should be checked every year to make sure they are clear and not blocked by anything like leaves or nests. Taking these steps can help prevent devastating carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

Creosote dangerously built up in flue.

How can annual chimney sweepings prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

As your fuel burns in your appliance, it creates noxious fumes, creosote, or soot, which is a black, oily residue that sticks to the liner of the chimney. If left unchecked, this residue will cause blockages in the chimney which, if not cleared, could lead to poisonous gases being released into the living space (rather than being properly vented out of the top of the flue). 

The best way to prevent this from happening is by getting a CSIA certified chimney sweep out to your home on an annual basis to expertly remove any buildup that might be present and spot any potential issues before they become dangerous. Making sure regular sweeping is one of your top priorities every year will go a long way in protecting your family.

Do Regular Chimney & Fireplace Sweepings Help with Heating Efficiency?

Regular chimney and fireplace sweeping services are an important preventive measure that, yes, can help maintain heating efficiency in your home. How? Well, it helps ensure proper airflow with the removal of soot and creosote that can build up and block the flue. This, in turn, makes it easier for the heat from your fireplace or furnace to spread throughout your home. 

Sweeping also contributes to improved air quality by reducing the likelihood of carbon monoxide, smoke particles, and other pollutants entering your home. This, in turn, puts less strain on your HVAC system, ensuring it can heat your home effectively when your fireplace isn’t in use.

By taking the time to schedule annual chimney sweeping and inspections with a professional, you can rest assured that your system will heat as efficiently as possible with every burning season. Get the peace of mind you deserve knowing your family is being taken care of properly – book with us today.

Close-up of wood burning fireplace with grate in the bottom.

How Can an Inefficient Chimney & Fireplace Affect My Energy Bill?

An inefficient chimney and fireplace can have a big impact on your home energy bills. If your fireplace isn’t sealed properly, your house can lose heat through the walls of the chimney. This means you’ll have to turn up the thermostat to compensate for the cold air coming in – and your HVAC system will be working harder to combat it as a result.

Furthermore, gas fireplaces require electricity to run their blowers and circulate warm air into the room – regular services will help to maximize energy-efficient benefits. 

And on top of everything, an improperly installed flue or damper in your furnace or fireplace can cause downdrafts and outside air to leak into your home, leading to even more red flags and lowered energy efficiency – and higher heating bills. 

To prevent these kinds of problems, establish good habits related to proper maintenance and the correct use of your furnace and fireplace chimney. Book your annual chimney inspection with us today.

What Is the Proper Process of Chimney and Fireplace Sweeping?

We’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again – all furnace and fireplace chimneys should be swept at least once a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 211.

The process of completing this job requires hiring a certified technician to inspect the interior of the area exposed to heat from any appliance – including gas, oil, or wood-burning chimneys.

First, the technician will check for deposits of combustible materials, such as debris from birds or other animals, soot, and creosote, among other substances that could lead to a dangerous fire hazard. 

Then, if any of these hazards are found, the technician is trained to use special brushes and vacuums to safely remove them. A properly swept chimney can then help produce a clean burn for your wood stove or appliance. 

To ensure peace of mind, it is imperative to trust CSIA-certified professionals qualified by NFPA 211 when deciding who will sweep your chimney.

What Are the Signs My Chimney & Fireplace Need to be Swept?

The signs that you need to professionally sweep your chimney and fireplace can include:

    • excess smoke from the fire or coming from the roof
    • visible creosote buildup inside the flue
    • a strong smell of smoke in the house
    • rodent activity in or around the hearth
    • an accumulation of soot on furniture near the hearth
    • difficulties starting fires
    • soot blowback near the appliance
    • smoke backing up into your home

Caring for your chimney and fireplace is essential in maintaining a properly functioning home heating system. Of course, each situation is different and it’s recommended you seek professional advice if you believe your chimney and fireplace require sweeping or if you suspect any issues might be lingering.

By taking proper precautions now, you can avoid countless additional problems down the line – and save yourself some money in the process.

Brown smoke billowing out of the top of the chimney with blue sky in the background.

Book Your Chimney Sweeping Today

How Can Chimney and Fireplace Sweeping Help with Smoky or Foul Odors?

Those smoky or foul odors that are invading your home are caused by the buildup of soot, creosote, and debris in the inner walls of the chimney. They can cause excess smoke to dribble out while burning logs, which then leads to the release of disagreeable smells into your living space. 

Smoke contains chemicals that are known for causing harm to the environment, as well as humans, animals, plants, and more. Regular chimney sweeping can drastically decrease the risk of smoke entering your space by ridding the appliance or masonry and flue of these unnecessary particles. 

But not only does regular sweeping make your fireplace smell better – it also gives you peace of mind when operating your fireplace, and it can save you from costly repairs down the road. Furthermore, it may even help improve indoor air quality in the home as these dangerous substances can escape into the air when not properly contained. With regular chimney and fireplace sweeping services, you can enjoy the warmth of a beautiful fire without worry.

Tech cleaning free-standing stove wearing face mask with vacuum tube taped to plastic on face of stove to keep dust from escaping.  Tarps on floor and tools to his right.

How are these particles removed without causing harm?

While there are circumstances where we would need to use harsh chemicals when cleaning a chimney, there are more natural methods like using brushes that spin against the walls and knock the particles loose, as well as crevice tools to brush and clean the firebox. We then catch the particles in HEPA-filtered vacuums, which are much more efficient – all without causing exposure to dangerous materials.

How Long Does Chimney Sweeping Take?

Sometimes home maintenance services can really put a dent in your day. So, what can you expect in terms of a timeline when you book sweeping services from our crew? 

Well, depending on your circumstances, chimney sweeping can be a time-consuming process that requires a careful and detailed approach to ensure it is done properly. How long yours takes will vary based on the complexity of the job and how much debris needs to be removed.

In the end, chimney sweeping can be fairly quick, taking anywhere from 1-2 hours, or it can be a more lengthy process that takes up your entire day. That said, the latter usually only happens if the chimney and flue are really bad and have been neglected for some time. For instance, if you have glazed creosote – or stage 3 creosote – removing it will be a more time-consuming process.

The best way to get an accurate estimate of how long it will take is to call the crew here at Winston’s Chimney Service, so we can get the specifics and find out where your system stands.

One thing is for sure, though – a good chimney sweep will never rush, taking the time they need and moving slowly and deliberately through each part of the structure to ensure a job well done.

What Do I Need to Do Before the Chimney Sweep Arrives?

Preparing for a chimney sweep visit can help the process run smoothly and quickly.

    • Make sure your sweep’s access to the area is clear. Take any furniture or decorations away from the mantle and make sure there is room for us to work and to put our equipment.
    • Ask your family to put tools, toys, and other items away from the firebox, so it can be opened completely by the technician.
    • If you have a curious and protective animal in the house, make sure they are secured somewhere away from the area where the technician needs to work. If they are friendly and mind their manners, most chimney techs are good with them being in the home – as long as you are there as well.
    • Make sure you don’t burn anything in the firebox for at least 24 hours before the technician arrives as it’s very difficult to remove hot ash. This is one of the most overlooked steps, but it’s an important one!
    • Finally, provide your chimney technician with a brief description of any changes or concerns that have taken place since the last time your hearth and chimney system was serviced. 

    By taking these steps, you will guarantee an efficient visit and minimize potential issues with your fireplace system.

    Can I Clean My Chimney Myself?

    While cleaning your own chimney may sound like an easy job, it is a complex task that should be left to certified professionals. Chimneys are filled with a toxic combination of soot and creosote, which can be hazardous if not correctly cleared. The threat of falling debris or inhalation of toxins is very real, and it isn’t something that should be minimized.

    Additionally, certain areas in the chimney are incredibly difficult to access without special tools or protective gear – and by trying to reach them you could do more harm than good, damaging your system (or hurting yourself) in the process.

    The professional and certified chimney technicians at Winston’s Chimney Service have the training and equipment to safely assess, sweep, and inspect your chimney from top to bottom, guaranteeing that it’s functioning properly and efficiently.

    Do I Need Sweepings If I Don’t Use My Fireplace?

    Even if you don’t use your fireplace as much as you used to – or at all, for that matter – you should have it inspected and swept on an annual basis. Why? Well, there are other things besides creosote that can cause your system to malfunction. And if these are overlooked and you choose to eventually light a fire down the line, you could be at risk for a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning once flames get going.

    What are some things people don’t think about?

    • Animals nesting in the chimney
    • Lightning strikes that cause the flue to shift and crack
    • Debris from trees entering the flue and sitting on the firebox shelf
    • A past renovation or restoration that changed the makeup of the firebox and/or chimney
    • Damages from natural disasters or big storms

    As you can see, there are plenty of potential dangers that have nothing to do with burning a fire in the fireplace. All in all, we believe it’s better to know you are as safe as possible every year than to be caught by surprise or worried about a potential chimney fire.

    Remember, too, that buildup in your flue can lead to deterioration, which can then spread to other areas of the home. And should animals nest in there, you’re bound to notice some bad odors – and maybe even some unwelcome noise as well. So, get that maintenance booked whether you light fires often or not.

    Two crows sitting on crown of chimney with no chimney cap.

    Do Creosote Sweeping Logs Work?

    The promise of creosote sweeping logs or chimney sweeping logs recently popularized in various online advertisements offers an intriguing and potentially time-saving solution to one of the most labor-intensive tasks involved in maintaining your wood-burning stove or fireplace. 

    But is this “miracle” product really as good as it sounds? Chimney sweeping logs can help make the debris easier to remove, but to maximize benefits from these logs, it’s still important to have your chimney regularly inspected and serviced by a certified professional to prevent chimney fires.

    In other words, burning a chimney or creosote sweeping log should not replace a sweeping by a professional sweep. In fact, while these logs pose no actual threat to your fireplace, they can be damaging in that they give homeowners a false sense of security thinking their fireplace is good to go after burning them.

    Ultimately, you can give the sweeping logs a shot if you like, but don’t forget about regular maintenance. Nothing beats having the eyes and skills of a professional when your chimney care is being completed.

    Call Winston’s Chimney Service Today

    There’s a reason Winston’s is rated high on review sites and relied on regularly throughout the Northern VA area – we do it right the first time. Give us the opportunity to prove ourselves to you. Once you rely on us for one service, we guarantee you won’t want to turn to anyone else again.

    We hold multiple industry certifications and memberships, we’re fully licensed and insured, and we truly care about the communities we serve. Remember that we live, work, and play here too! We care just as much as you do about keeping homes looking great and functioning as safely as possible.

    Let’s get the job done. Give us a call at 703-379-5006 or book online now.

     

    Our comprehensive chimney services include fireplace and wood stove installations, so we can help with all your heating appliance needs.