The Real Truth About Chimney Cleaning Logs
It’s about time we address the elephant in the room – the chimney cleaning logs.
Wood burning fireplaces are great to have for warming your home and providing ambiance during the fall and winter months. And like any other heating utility, your fireplace requires regular and proper maintenance. We’ve had a number of customers ask us what we think of using chimney cleaning logs, so we decided to put together this comprehensive explanation.
To put it simply, what chewing gum is to brush your teeth, is what these chimney sweep logs are to chimney cleaning. They just don’t work that well.
Allow us to explain why we don’t recommend using chimney cleaning logs:
#1 Chimney cleaning logs aren’t proven to work
In theory, the function of chimney cleaning logs is to dry out the creosote build-up so that it falls off the interior walls of your chimney. The directions say to burn the log in your fireplace, and it will release a chemical into your chimney to remove the soot. In reality, however, the effectiveness of this process has never been validated by a third party so I wouldn’t recommend it as a proper cleaning method. The companies who sell these products run their own tests and claim that the logs work – but that’s all we have to go on.
#2 Cleaning logs do not prevent creosote build-up
These chimney log manufacturers also claim to slow down the build-up too. I’ve personally talked to homeowners who have used these logs before and who are now clients of Rooftop Chimney Sweeps, because the product didn’t do a good job of preventing build-up or of cleaning their chimney.
And there’s really only one way to know if there’s more or less build-up in the chimney and that is having a certified professional inspecting it.
#3 Chimney cleaning logs can actually make the problem worse
If these chimney cleaning log companies really understood the anatomy of a typical chimney, they’d realize the mistake that they’re creating for their customers.
A smoke shelf runs the full length of the throat of the chimney and is installed to prevent outside downdrafts from interfering with updrafts venting out the smoke and gases. Using chimney cleaning logs makes matters worse because when the creosote loosens (whatever amount that does happen to fall off), it accumulates in a pile on the smoke shelf. This can be dangerous, since a pile of sitting creosote can result in starting a chimney fire.
And this smoke shelf isn’t easy to reach, so you’d probably have to hire a chimney sweep to come out and clear the creosote pile for you. You’d be better off just hiring a professional chimney sweep to begin with.
Lastly, the Chimney Safety Institute of America accurately points out that the packaging on these chimney cleaning logs even says that “The Creosote Sweeping Log does not take the place of inspection and professional cleaning”, which is proof enough that this product isn’t a substitute for routine chimney cleaning by a certified chimney sweep.