December 1, 2004
Q: Recently I have seen advertisements for a commercial log that will clean your chimney as it burns. Can you tell me if these will do an adequate job?|
– George Taylorson, via e-mail
A: Chimney-cleaning logs have been on the market for years. While once sold as a substitute for messy mechanical or manual sweeping, they are now marketed as one component of regular chimney maintenance.
The logs are burned in the fireplace or wood stove like regular wood and help remove creosote (chimney soot) and other deposits from metal or masonry chimneys. There also are chimney-cleaning powders and sprays.
Creosote buildup, a byproduct of all wood fires, is a major cause of chimney fires. With more than 50,000 chimney fires a year in North America, chimney cleaning and maintenance get a lot of attention from fire prevention officials. Fire safety experts say that burning chimney cleaning logs or using chemical products is not a substitute for mechanical brush cleaning and annual chimney inspections.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America further states that marketing claims for some of these products may be creating a false sense of security among homeowners. However, some of the more popular chimney logs and cleaning products do emphasize that they are only one aspect of a safe chimney-cleaning program.