Q: I am thinking of starting my own chimney sweeping business in Portland, OR and was curious as to what type of chimney sweep tools I need to start out with?
A: As a certified chimney sweep, I can tell you how important it is to have the proper chimney sweep tools! I remember once on a very windy day, my ladder blew over and there I was stranded on the roof. To make matters worse, there was a very angry squirrel nearby, upset that I was putting a cap over her home. You get the picture!
I invested in ridge hooks and protective gloves right away. As a chimney sweep, you will be performing an inspection of the outside of the chimney as well as the inside. Investing in quality ladders for climbing up near the top of the chimney to inspect the chimney crown and cap is very important. I also suggest purchasing a polypropylene chimney sweep brush with extension rods, a high-speed vacuum system, hand tools, tarps, and drop cloths. To sweep a masonry fireplace properly, you will use your rods and brushes, and sweep from the firebox, up through the smoke chamber, all the way to the top of the flue. Don’t believe what you see on Mary Poppins, when the chimney sweeps are dancing from roof-to roof sweeping chimneys.
You will use your hand tools along with your vacuum to sweep out the firebox completely after all of the creosote and debris is removed from the chimney. Tarps are a necessary part of the chimney sweeping process because chimney sweeping is messy work and protecting the customer’s home from the debris is important for keeping customers happy.
When you are sweeping a masonry chimney you will be using wire brushes (bristles made of metal) and when you are sweeping a prefab fireplace, which is a factory built fireplace, you will be using the polypropylene brushes I mentioned earlier which have plastic bristles. Having these two types of brushes prepares you for most of the flue systems you will be facing there in Portland. While sweeping the chimney, you will need to have enough rods to reach the top of the chimney. Rods generally come in lengths of 5 or 6 feet, and chimneys are usually around 30 feet tall so I would recommend having 6 rods at least, plus a few extra for unusually tall chimneys and in case one is damaged or broken out in the field.
One last recommendation I have for you as a prospective chimney sweep company owner is to keep on your truck or in a warehouse a supply of items that a customer may want to purchase for you such as stainless steel chimney caps, top sealing dampers, or chimney cleaning products.
The right chimney sweep equipment is imperative in providing a satisfying chimney sweep service for your customers. Older chimneys have clay flue tiles whereas other chimneys have been fitted with a stainless steel flue liner as a part of an updating process. Chimney sweeping, no matter what kind of liner the chimney has is a process that takes time to learn and perfect. Remember that a clean chimney is more efficient. Who knows? You may end up operating Portland’s best chimney sweep company!