You may have attempted to clean your chimney yourself thinking it's not that hard of a job and you can do it in an afternoon. You might have used one of those chimney cleaning fire logs and thought that was good enough. You simply have to place them in your fireplace and light them up, and they do the work for you. You can never be completely certain that your chimney is properly cleaned and maintained unless you hire a professional, commercial chimney sweep to do the job.
What tools does a commercial chimney cleaning professional use that are more effective than what you can obtain?
The primary tools that a chimney sweep will use are long, flexible brushes that can reach down into your chimney and scrub away the creosote buildup. This is the main danger in any fireplace, the buildup of the highly flammable substance that is present, and is the result of all fires. The brushes are made of wire with the strength to scrub off all the types of creosote. There are flat, wire bristle brushes for harder spots to clean, and hand brushes are used in smaller places near the base of the chimney.
Another tool of the trade is industrial vacuums. These tools have more power and are able to clean out heavy, thick soot once it's been chipped away from the sides of the chimney. The vacuum will clean out the soot and mess and prevent it from entering into your home. It also removes pollutants from entering into the air while the chimney sweep is cleaning.
Brushes can clear out a lot of the soot and creosote, but there are times when it is so caked on that a more powerful tool is needed. This is where chemical cleaners come into the picture. The cleaner is applied to the sides of the chimney and left to do its job over the course of several minutes. Then the sides are brushed down as usual. The cleaner helps to break up the soot and creosote that regular brushing is not able to dislodge.
While it might not seem that important, another tool a good chimney sweep will use is a drop cloth. They will cover any furniture in the surrounding area in the event that any soot or creosote does make its way outside of the opening of the fireplace and into your home. There is always a chance that once airborne (should it become so) it will come to rest on your furniture, potentially ruining it, and a drop cloth can help to protect it.