How much does it cost to have a chimney cleaned?
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Chimney Cleaning Cost Guide
Updated: August 18, 2022
Chimneys provide a way for toxic exhaust gases from the fireplace to exit the home. However, as toxic fumes are traveling upwards, they leave soot and tar. The soot and tar turn into creosote. This highly flammable material can catch fire and damage your home if the chimney is not cleaned regularly. According to the National Fire Protection Association Standard 211, chimneys, fireplaces, and vents should be inspected and cleaned annually at a minimum. The scope of the inspection and the methods used depend on the condition and the amount of cleaning work required.
The national average cost of chimney cleaning is between $100 and $500. Most people pay around $400 for a level 2 inspection and cleaning of a wood stove chimney. However, at the low end of the spectrum, you can pay around $85 for a level 1 inspection and cleaning of a gas fireplace chimney. You can pay up to $5,000 for a level 3 inspection and cleaning at the high end, which is only required if there is structural damage. The sweep price for a level 3 inspection and sweep runs higher because the entire structure may need to be deconstructed to determine its damage.
Cost to Sweep a Chimney
|Chimney Cleaning Cost
|National average cost
What Is a Chimney Sweep?
The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says that all vents, fireplaces, and chimneys need to be inspected for correct clearances, freedom from deposits, and soundness annually. Maintenance, cleaning, and repairs should be done whenever required. This is the standard for the United States and the appropriate way to ensure a fireplace or stove is safe. Most companies offer inspection and cleaning as a package. This process takes around 30 minutes to an hour for Level 1 or Level 2 inspections. Level 3 inspections take more than a day, depending on the amount of work needed.
The expert uses shop vacuums and specialized brushes to clean a chimney and remove the soot and dust. They start from the firebox and go up, start at the top and go down, or combine both depending on the most convenient method to clean it. Typically, the fireplace area is covered with tarps or drop cloths to protect your floor and catch any dust removed during the cleaning. A camera may or may not be utilized to get a better picture of the state of the chimney. The process involves removing any debris built up in the walls of the flue. The sweep also removes any blockages. This professional also does the prep work and cleanup needed to leave a clean home once they leave the property.
Average Cost of Chimney Sweep by Level of Inspection
Sweeping and inspection costs depend on the level of inspection needed for your chimney. The National Fire Protection Association lists three different inspection levels, depending on the invasiveness of the procedure. Each level of inspection has a different cost. All levels include cleaning. Below is a table with the three levels of inspection. These prices are wide ranges because chimneys can have one or several flues, impacting the cost.
|Cost Range (Cleaning Included)
|$85 - $950
|$150 - $1,000
|$500 - $5,000
Chimney Cleaning Cost by Type of Fireplace
Cleaning your chimney is recommended to maximize efficiency and detect potential issues like cracks and holes, which can later lead to house fires. Each heating appliance has a different type of chimney installed. They are all made from different elements and materials and require a specialized (often professional) cleaning approach, which comes at a different cost. In most cases, the price to clean a fireplace is included in the inspection cost, and the most common types of inspections are levels 1 and 2, so prices below only take into account those types of inspections. Level 3 inspections are considered rare and will dramatically increase the costs.
|Average Prices (Level 1 and 2 Inspection and Cleaning)
|$85 - $250
|$175 - $350
|$200 - $500
|$300 - $1,000
Gas fireplaces are one of the most affordable heating appliances homeowners can use. The average cost of a sweep for them ranges from $85 to $250. These energy-efficient fireplaces are easy to install and cost less than other heating appliances. These factors make them one of the most affordable options for homeowners that want to stay on a budget. In addition to this, gas fireplaces are easier to light and produce no smell, so they are ideal for creating a nice home atmosphere.
A chimney is not always required for a gas fireplace; however, installing one enhances the look of your interior and minimizes the risk of carbon monoxide issues. This type of structure requires less maintenance than those for wood or pellet stoves. Since there is no soot to clean up or logs to dispose of, most professionals recommend cleaning these ones annually or every other year. This is unlike wood stove chimneys that require regular annual maintenance.
The sweeping pricing for pellet stoves may cost from $175 to $350 for cleaning services. These stoves offer an environmentally friendly way of heating your home during winter and offer the convenience of automatic ignition. However, as burning the pellets leaves residue within the stove firebox, it needs to be cleaned weekly to ensure its longevity. However, not all professionals provide pellet stove cleaning services and chimney cleaning services at the same time. Instead, you must hire a professional to do the cleaning jobs separately.
Wood Stove Chimney Cleaning
The average price for chimney cleaning for a wood stove is $200 to $500. Because burning wood creates creosote, wood stoves require regular, annual cleaning. Smoke from burning wood leaves creosote. This substance sticks to the flue and can catch fire. Regular cleaning prevents this and helps clear out other residue and debris that obstructs the exit path of exhaust gases. You may find nests built by birds, squirrels, or other animals and leaves, twigs, branches, or other parts of nearby trees in the chimney. Wood stove inserts that do not have liners 4 running to the top of the chimney must be pulled out for access, adding $50 to the cost. Insert pipes that have to be removed for cleaning increase the cost by around $20.
Wood-burning chimney cleaning prices range between $300 and $1,000 for cleaning. Wood-burning fireplaces are one of the most sought-after, but also the ones that require the most maintenance. Burning wood leaves a residue that forms creosote. Regular maintenance ensures that the creosote doesn’t catch fire and cause any further damage. If they are used frequently, wood-burning fireplaces should be cleaned quarterly. Wood-burning inserts can be purchased with a liner or a regular insert.
Chimney Sweep by Part
Every chimney is made of different parts. The number of parts varies depending on the complexity. A few are common in all types of chimneys: the firebox, the flue, the liner, and a damper. Each of these parts is made of different materials and requires different cleaning tools and techniques to preserve and protect them during the cleaning process. Below is an explanation of how each part is cleaned.
The air shaft is “the neck” of the chimney that extends from the firebox to the top of the structure. The cap on the top prevents animals or water from getting inside. Chimneys can have no flue, one, or several flues, which are the most decorative and the most expensive to clean and maintain. Typically, the professional sweep scrubs a cleaning brush up and down on each section of the flue, removing the soot.
As its name suggests, the firebox is where the wood burns. It’s usually inserted into a fireplace or a stove to burn the box’s material instead of the fireplace itself. The firebox is cleaned using a bendable “noodle brush” for the smoke shelf and a long-handled brush capable of cleaning soot off the firebox’s sides. The sweeping company covers nearby surfaces to prevent soot from getting on any of them and proceeds to clean the inside of the firebox. They may also use some chemicals, depending on the amount of work needed to clean the firebox.
The liners protect the masonry from the byproducts of burning wood that corrode it. It’s made of materials that tolerate high heats (mostly stainless steel) to ensure that the heat and fire remain within the fireplace and the chimney. These liners are cleaned using special polypropylene bristle brushes that remove the soot, creosote, and debris without damaging the inside.
A damper is a metal plate that is moved to allow or prevent the smoke from the fireplace into the flue. As most dampers are installed a foot above the opening of the fireplace, the damper needs to be unhinged or unpinned from its position for cleaning. However, some dampers may not be removable, so the sweep cleans it where it’s located. To clean the damper, a cleaning expert may use a wire brush to remove the soot and clean the leftover soot with a cleaning mixture.
Furnace Chimney Cleaning Cost
The average cost of a furnace chimney cleaning is about $125 to $400. Many homeowners do not realize that oil and gas heating appliances require a chimney that should be inspected and cleaned regularly. The price is lower for furnace chimney cleaning because the work is less intense due to a lack of creosote. While an oil furnace does not produce creosote like a wood-burning unit, it still creates soot, which can cause damage to a chimney. The best time to clean a furnace chimney is just before the heating season or directly after it is complete.
How Do You Know When Your Chimney Needs Sweeping?
An annual inspection or cleaning is recommended for chimneys. If it hasn’t been used in a long time, it should also be inspected before using it again. Those moving into a new house should look for documentation of the last time the it was swept. If no documents state the last date, it should be cleaned before use.
There are also a few signs that your chimney should be swept. For instance, if you see black particles deposited inside or smell smoke after the fireplace or stove has been used, cleaning is likely needed. Other signs such as animals in the flue, fires that no longer burn strongly, and visible soot also indicate you need a sweep. If a strong scent is emanating from the chimney, it should also be inspected and cleaned.
To allow the chimney sweeps to do their job efficiently, it needs to be cool. In most cases, the sweep will ask you to stop using the fireplace or stove 24 to 48 hours before the appointment. Make sure you can access the area that needs cleaning easily. Stove inserts without liners extending to the top of the chimney have to be pulled out for easy access.
If you have any furniture, decor, or carpets that may get in the way or get dirty during the cleaning process, remove them before the professionals arrive at your home. When the sweep arrives, let them know what concerns you have and ask any questions. Upon arrival, the professionals place protective coverings to prevent surfaces from getting dirty from soot or other debris. They also lay down runners throughout your home to prevent the soot from spreading into other areas.
Several factors go into how much the cleaning will cost, the first of them being the level of inspection you choose to have and the number of flues your chimney has. Other factors are also important. For instance, if your roof is fairly hard to access, the cost may be higher. Also, if you have a roof with steep pitches or high peaks, it’s more dangerous and challenging to reach it. This leads to more expensive sweep services due to the need to use special equipment.
There are situations when extra labor may be necessary, which will make your average project cost increase. Someone who uses their fireplace or stove more often also might have higher costs or require more frequent cleaning. If you let the cleaning go for longer than recommended, the cost may also rise. Removing the build-up will be more complicated and take more time since more solid debris may be inside the structure. However, these are not the only reasons that the prices vary. As an example, the area where you live may have different prices than somewhere across the country. You should definitely consider the cost of living in your area when getting an estimate for chimney cleaning.
What Happens If You Don't Clean Your Chimney?
As a fireplace or stove is used, soot and other particles can build up inside the chimney. Continued use and build up can cause it to be less efficient when drawing gases and smoke from the stove or fireplace. Gas and wood fireplaces are especially apt to release harmful gases like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide during the combustion process. These gases should be vented from the home, but a blocked chimney prevents that from occurring. Instead, the gases may be released into the home.
When burning wood, creosote, which is extremely flammable, can also build up. The more creosote is present, the more likely it is that a fire will occur. It can also create structural damage, which may lead to the need for a more expensive inspection and cleaning process when you do choose to get it done.
Other blockages may also go unnoticed if the chimney is not inspected and cleaned. For instance, bird nests could be built in the flue, and the blockage might increase the chance of a fire. Even a partially blocked fireplace can lead to problems like blackening of the fireplace. This occurs when soot rises out into your home instead of moving into the chimney.
Chimney Maintenance Cost
Regular maintenance increases lifespan and minimizes the accumulation of creosote and other debris. A few basic steps do the trick. Some of these steps include using properly seasoned firewood and cleaning the ashes regularly so they don’t accumulate. Seasoned firewood typically costs between $120 and $180 per cord. The cost ranges between $200 and $300 per cord during heating season.
In addition to this, you should avoid using painted, chemically processed, or pressure-treated wood. These woods release toxic fumes when burned. Finally, remember to always open the damper to its maximum capacity before starting the fire in your fireplace or stove.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
The inspection may show that it is in bad shape and needs repairs. Replacing a liner is expensive and costs between $1,000 and $7,000, with most homeowners paying around $2,500 to install a liner. A chimney cap replacement is needed if your cap has been damaged due to poor weather conditions or wildlife. The average cost to have a replacement cap installed by a professional is $425. When the chimney crown is damaged, the excess water can cause bricks to separate and damage clay tiles. The total cost of a crown repair is around $900. Flashing repairs typically cost $175 for smaller repairs and can go up to $1,000 if a brick replacement is required. A new damper costs between $150 and $500.
Sometimes, small animals, rodents, or birds get trapped in your chimney. Other times, they make a nest below the cap. Some die and get trapped in the flue. Without proper removal, these animals obstruct the normal flow of the fire’s exhaust gases. Removing animals, birds, or rodents from a chimney costs around $100 for small and easily removed animals but can go up to $700 if the removal job is more complicated.
Creosote Cleaning Logs
Using creosote minimizes the risk of fires and damage to the fireplace and chimney. Creosote sweeping logs contain minerals that dry out tar and creosote, reducing the risk of fires substantially. However, remember that creosote logs aren’t a replacement for professional cleaning. Make sure to schedule your regular sweep, regardless of the regular maintenance you’re doing. Buying creosote logs costs you about $12 each.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Camera inspection during sweeps. Some sweeps may offer a camera inspection during cleaning for an additional $50 to $75.
- DIY. Some homeowners choose to clean their chimneys themselves to save money. However, if the smoke chamber in your fireplace is too difficult to reach or if you do not have experience working on a roof, it would be better to hire a certified professional. If you are cleaning your own fireplace, sprinkle the ashes and creosote on flower beds or add them to the base of your houseplants. They are a good source of calcium and other nutrients for plants.
- Trees overhanging. Trees that overhang the chimney should be trimmed to avoid damage to from falling branches. Tree trimming costs range between $175 and $750.
- Certified professionals. Before you hire a sweep, ask for their certification. Professional sweeps have passed a certification test for chimney standards and codes. They understand the construction and have insurance and workman's compensation in case an accident happens.
- Beware of scams. Watch for scammers who offer ridiculously low prices for cleaning chimneys. They may lie about structural damage, show you pieces of litter they claim were found in the chimney, or attempt to convince you to install new caps or liners. To protect yourself, always ask for references and verify them. Do not be taken in by the low prices. Get at least two or three quotes before making your decision. Also, make sure the company is licensed and employs certified individuals.
- Best season to clean. Companies and professionals recommend doing an inspection and cleaning in the spring after the heating season ends. This is when the residue is dry and easily removed. However, most homeowners inspect and clean their chimneys in the fall, just before the heating season starts to prepare the fireplace for proper functioning.
- How much does it cost to clean a chimney?
Typically, homeowners spend between $100 and $500 to clean their chimneys. The cost depends on the type of stove or fireplace you have and the required inspection and cleaning level.
- How long does a chimney sweep take?
Most sweeps take between 30 minutes to an hour, although level 3 inspections and cleaning can take more than a day to complete.
- How can I tell if my chimney needs cleaning?
If you notice the damper is getting dark, the fire is burning poorly, or you smell burning wood, you are seeing indications that you need to clean your chimney.
- How often should you clean your chimney?
They need to be cleaned at least once a year, preferably in spring, after the heating season ends. If you live in an area where the heating season lasts longer, it’s recommended that you clean your chimneys twice a year.
- Can I sweep my own chimney?
Some DIY sweeping tools can be purchased so you can do the chimney sweeping yourself. It’s always recommended that you hire a professional to do the job properly.
- How do I clean the outside of my chimney?
If you notice dark stains on the outside of your chimney, you can remove them by pressure washing or using strong detergents. You can ask your cleaning professional to clean it if they offer that service.