NORFOLK-As the weather gets cooler, people will think about warming up their homes. For many people, that means cutting wood and getting a warm fire in the fireplace.
On this day, I was training with Ray Gessner as a chimney sweep. I learned that the first thing a sweep does is inspect a fireplace for dangerous creosote.
"So if that ever catches on fire, it runs all the way up the chimney and the whole chimney liner can catch on fire," he explained.
It's a bit of a challenged to clean out a chimney. First, I climbed a ladder to roof with Gessner and his tech David. We had to take off the cap to examine the damper.
"The damper tells me if you need cleaning or not. If you have a dirty damper or dirty smoke chamber. it tells me that chimney needs cleaning. I'll also check and see if there are any signs of water damage and that way I will know if it's leak," Gessner said.
After checking things out, cleaning commenced.
"A lot of people don't even know they need to have their chimney's cleaned some times. And that can cause chimney fires. There's like 25,000 chimney fires and millions of dollars of damage so," stated Gessner.
To reach top to bottom, we kept attaching extender rods to the brushes.
Gessner talked about the kind of person it takes to be a chimney sweep.
"It takes a guy who's not afraid of heights. Our company does drug-free, clean DMV and just a good honest guy. Hard working. And good with your hands," said Gessner.
By the sway, the hat a sweep wears helps keep creosote from getting in their eyes. After working from the outside, it's time to attack the chimney from the inside. With vacuum in hand, I suck up the creosote that came loose during the brushing.
Crews can do up to five homes a day and fall is prime time.
So, so I have the right stuff to get a chimney sweep?
"I think you'd do pretty good. You seemed pretty on top of your stuff and you definitely seem like a hard worker so I am sure you would do great," concluded Robert Benfield, Chimney Sweep.
Click here for more information on the National Fire Prevention Association.