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Chimney Cleaning-Sweeping

Schedule Service

When should I get my fireplace swept?

This a tougher question than it sounds. The simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don’t use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use. Doodlebuggers has been providing chimney sweeping, chimney cleaning and chimney inspection services to the Pensacola-Destin Florida areas since 1998

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be swept at 1/4″ of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system.  This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home. Factory-built fireplaces should be swept when any appreciable buildup occurs. The logic is that the deposit is quite acidic and can shorten the life of the fireplace.

Chimney Cleaning in Pensacola-Destin Florida. Your fireplace may be cleaned from top or bottom. Type of roof, height of chimney or weather conditions all determine how the chimney is cleaned. The following is an outline on our cleaning process:

  1. A large drop cloth is laid in front of fireplace.
  2. A HEPA Filtered vacuum with the hose is placed in the fireplace for dust control.
  3. The damper is closed.
  4. A ladder is placed for access to the roof.
  5. Large professional brushes are used to brush soot from flue.
  6. A visual inspection of chimney and flue is done.
  7. The firebox, smoke chamber and damper are brushed.
  8. The firebox and smoke chamber are vacuumed.
  9. A visual inspection of firebox, smoke chamber, damper, face and hearth is completed.
  10. Written “Condition Report” is completed and emailed to the customer.


We do a complete inspection of each and every chimney system we service in the Pensacola and Destin Florida areas. To accomplish this, we put up a ladder, get up on the roof, and take digital photos of our inspection of your chimney. A Chimney inspection can not be properly completed without getting on the roof.


The average chimney extends somewhere between 18 to 28 feet in the air. It’s just about impossible to see the top when standing on the ground, let alone make recommendations about the chimney’s condition. Beware of companies that make recommendations without ever putting up a ladder!


An inspection of your fireplace flue system can put your mind at ease. Doodlebuggers can inspect your flue using a video camera and/or visual inspection. A complete written report on the condition of your fireplace will be given.


The unfriendly fire is an uncontrolled or hostile fire in the smoke chamber and flue that results in damage either to the flue or surrounding structure. A friendly fire is a romantic controlled fire in the firebox.


  1. Puffed up, expanded creosote deposits in flue.
  2. Warped, twisted and heat stressed metal chimney.
  3. Popping and cracking noises during the fire.
  4. Cracked or fractured tile liners, cracked, missing bricks and missing mortar joints.


  1. Cracked tile, this may not sound dangerous but a crack can open during a fire, allowing smoke, sparks and flames to come dangerously close, threatening the wood framing around chimney and in the walls.
  2. Missing mortar joints can be just as dangerous as a crack, only larger than a crack.
  3. Oversized flue causes flue gases to cool and condense in chimney. Condensation (creosote) can cause a flue fire.
  4. Unlined Flue. Older chimneys were built without tile liners. This kind of chimney does not offer the protection from heat transfer to wood around flue. Unlined flues are oversized and are not safe for wood/pellet appliances. The manufacturers and local codes require a lined chimney.


  1. How can I prevent home heating hazards and save money?
  2. How often should my chimney be cleaned?
  3. Why does my chimney need a cover?

How can I prevent home heating hazards and save money?

Have your chimney checked every year (no matter how you heat your home) to make sure the chimney can do its job to properly vent hot, toxic gases and carbon monoxide from the heating system to the outdoors.

  • To help reduce creosote build-up in your wood-burning chimney system, burn only well-seasoned hardwoods. If you don’t know how to build a hot, safe fire, ask us for tips on proper wood-burning techniques.
  • Have a high quality, long-lasting chimney cap installed to keep out debris and prevent birds, animals and insects from nesting in your chimney.
  • Following a violent storm, flood or lightning strike, have your chimney inspected for damage – inside and out. This includes checking for cracks and fallen bricks. For safety’s sake, DO NOT USE YOUR CHIMNEY until it is checked by one of our CSIA certified sweeps.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector to warn of harmful gases that may be entering your home because of a blocked or damaged chimney.
  • Have your chimney waterproofed to prevent long-term corrosion and masonry damage.
  • Have your chimney flashing (the seal between the chimney and the roof) inspected and maintained. Flashing prevents rain water and snow melt from entering your home and causing costly damage to your walls and ceilings.
  • Save energy dollars and eliminate unpleasant off-season odors. Have a sealing damper installed in your wood-burning chimney system.
  • Have your chimney sweep ensure that your chimney has an appropriate liner.
  • A little money now can save a lot of money and heartache down the line.

“How often should my chimney be cleaned?”

There is no steadfast rule on the frequency of a chimney cleaning. It can vary from once a month to once every ten years depending on a variety of factors. On the other hand, an annual inspection of all chimneys by a CSIA Certified Sweep, is extremely important.

Let’s consider both cleanings and inspections at length. First, frequency of cleaning will depend on:

  • How often you use your fireplace. Obviously, persons who use their fireplace only occasionally for coziness are not going to have to clean their flues as often as persons who use their systems constantly throughout the season.
  • The type of wood use. Freshly-cut softwoods usually build up creosote more quickly than well-seasoned hardwoods.
  • Whether you have a stove or fireplace insert. They usually require attention much more often than an open fireplace. Also, the way you operate your stove or fireplace can and will have an effect on the amount of creosote you accumulate.
  • The severity of the burning season and your geographic location. Understandably, the burning season will be different in the Pacific Northwest than in, say, the Deep South.
  • The location of your chimney in your home. Even this – plus the type of chimney construction you have – can have a great influence on how quickly creosote builds up and how often cleaning may be necessary.

As you can see, the number of factors which influence your chimney’s cleaning schedule are many. Now, about those chimney inspections: All chimneys – yes, (wood, coal, oil and gas) should be thoroughly inspected once a year by a chimney professional. Never assume your chimney is safe even if you seldom or never use it. There are a whole host of problems that could cause an unsafe chimney or fireplace.

These problems could include:

  • cracks or crevices caused by builder negligence
  • normal settling of the chimney
  • lightning strikes
  • excessive use
  • moisture damage
  • nests and other obstructions…

The list goes on and on. In conclusion, consider the following: when an insurance company insures your property, it doesn’t do so because you are going to have a problem, but because possibly you could have a problem. When chimney sweeps inspect a chimney and fireplace, they, and you, hope they won’t find any problems. But if there are any there, you certainly want to know about it.

Complete and thorough chimney inspections should include rooftop, attic, firebox and foundation inspections

Why Does Your Chimney Need a Cover?

Have you ever heard of the inside of someone’s home being “trashed” by an errant bird or squirrel? Or dampers rusting out of fireplaces? Or the mortar in chimneys being slowly eaten away? The damage caused in any of these cases can be quite expensive to repair, as well as inconvenient. The simple installation of a chimney cap can prevent tragedies such as these.

What causes them? Rainwater that gets in your chimney mixes with the ash in the flue, to form corrosive lye. This eats away at the mortar and at the metal of the damper, shortening the useful life of both. Maybe you’ve noticed your damper is rusty or hard to open or you’ve found puddles in your fireplace. Both are signs that you need a cap. If the damper pins or casing rust out, it can cost anywhere from $300 to $800 to have the old casing ripped out and a new one installed. On Heatilator or Heat Fab type fireplaces the dampers are virtually impossible to replace. And, of course, if the mortar in a masonry chimney goes, the cost of repair or replacement is quite high.

As for those birds, squirrels, and raccoons – all of them consider chimneys the ideal place to safely raise a family…or enter a house easily. When they nest, they bring fleas, ticks and other messes with them. If they enter a house, they often panic – wrecking furnishings as they try to escape. Some smart raccoons, of course, find the chimney the perfect “gateway” to the kitchen, tracking sooty paw prints all over everything as they trek back and forth to the pantry. Cute? Maybe. Destructive? Definitely.

Chimney caps or covers are made in various styles with different materials – ranging from heavy pieces of slate placed on “columns” at the flue top, to painted metal or aluminum caps that attach to the chimney liner. What you should look for in a chimney cap is one that will keep out rain and animals, but that can be easily removed for chimney inspection and maintenance.

Don’t wait until the raccoons nest in your chimney this Spring. Or until your rusty damper falls off in your hand. Ask your chimney sweep to show you the caps he or she has to offer. You can usually save money if you get one at the same time your chimney is swept or inspected.

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