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Chimney sweep inspections can save your life

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Updated: 12/28/2012 8:38 am Published: 12/27/2012 9:34 pm

Local chimney sweep companies are starting to see their calls come in, which is why Broken Arrow chimney sweepTom Baltes thinks Oklahoma has had a few home heating fires this week.

“We had temperatures at 75 degrees in early December, typically we don’t get a lot of chimney calls until it’s really, really cold,” said Baltes. “People haven’t had their chimney cleaned and inspected and I suspect that’s why we have had chimney fires this last week or so.”

Baltes is referring to the dual house fire in Owasso on Christmas Eve and two more fires on Tuesday in Catoosa and Broken Arrow.  As of Thursday, only the fire in Owasso is thought to be started by a chimney fire.  The other two are still under investigation but are not suspicious.  

“First, I climb up on the roof and take a look down the chimney to see how dirty it is,” said Baltes.

Then, he determines what kind of tools he will need to clean it depending on the level of buildup he sees of creosote.

“Creosote is a black shiny build up along the interior of the chimney flue,” describes Baltes.    

It’s burn off from seasoned wood or wet wood. The moisture freezes and expands and then can crack the flue.  Creosote is very flammable and is what causes fires inside the chimney and then, typically they burn into the attic. 

“I stick a chimney brush down the chimney to clear any residue build up, sometimes we have to use heavy machinery,” said Baltes. 

Then, he goes inside the home and cleans the throat, or smoke chamber.  It’s the area between the flue and the damper. 

“I use the spin brush up here and that cleans anything stuck in the throat of the chimney,” said Baltes.

Once he has cleaned everything out and filled any cracks, he does a test light.

The entire process takes about 15 minutes, maybe more if you have a lot of creosote inside your chimney.  Chimney experts recommend you get your chimney inspected once a year or more if you like to burn wood in there a lot.

“There is some myth our there I think that you only need it checked every five years, but that is not true,” said Baltes.

If you fail to inspect your chimney annually, you are risking your life and the lives of your loved ones. 

An inspection will cost you $49.95 with Tom Baltes’s company out of Broken Arrow called Expert Chimney Cleaning. 

“You’re better safe than sorry,” said Baltes.  “The price is not worth the cost of losing your loved ones to a chimney fire that you could have prevented.”

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