If you need information about our chimney services maybe our Chimney FAQ can help.

What is included in a Fireplace Cleaning?

There are four (or five) main components of a Fireplace (FP) system that are tended to in a Fireplace cleaning appointment.  They are:

  • Firebox
  • Damper
  • Smoke Chamber
  • Flue
  • Chimney cap (if there is one)

Described another way, we clean all of the surface that become soot-coated during FP usage, from the floor of the Fireplace to the top of the chimney.   This process (to be done properly) takes about an hour and a quarter to an hour and three quarters.  Most of that time is spent indoors in front of the Fireplace.  (Visit our pricing page.)

What is the procedure for a Fireplace flue cleaning?

Please note that every FP is different and cleaning techniques are adjusted accordingly:

  • The work area in front of the Fireplace is protected using drop cloths and cardboard panels.
  • A special vacuum runs during the entire cleaning process to ensure total dust control.
  • The flue is swept from the rooftop down or the bottom up, depending upon many factors (such as roof access, damper type, weather conditions, etc.).  A Fireplace flue is usually a rectangular shaped vertical tunnel.  It will be 15 to 35 feet in height in the homes we generally work in.  Cleaning the flue is achieved using brushes and rods.
  • The damper door is disconnected from its controller and removed from its frame in the throat of the FP.  This allows for complete cleaning of the damper as well as access to to the smoke chamber and shelf.
  • The smoke chamber is whip-cleaned, scraped, brushed.  This mysterious sounding area is the bell-shaped passage that funnels smoke from the top of the firebox (waist-height) to the bottom opening of the flue (typically about ceiling height in the Fireplace room).  This part of the cleaning is the most crucial, as it is the area of the FP system where soot / creosote accumulate most and where a chimney fire is most likely to start.  It is also the most difficult area to clean and the reason we clean chimneys slower than anyone!  Many “Brush & Go” chimney sweeps skip this piece entirely.
  • The firebox is wire-brushed and vacuumed.  Soot and creosote that have been extracted from the flue and smoke chamber are now brought into the firebox, bagged and removed from the work area.
  • When all cleaning work has been completed, the damper door is re-installed and tested.  We typically leave the damper in the CLOSED position to prevent heat loss until the customer is ready to have a fire.
  • With everything done, we tidy up the work area and remove our equipment.  Other than a clean chimney, the customer should find it hard to tell that work had ever been done in their living room!

What is NOT included in a Fireplace cleaning?

The Ash Pit is not included!  Some homes with Fireplaces also have an ash pit located just below the FP floor.  It is a convenience item that is utilized by opening a small door in the floor of the Fireplace and pushing in ashes from past fires.  An ash pit may be small, medium or large.  There is often an Ash Pit cleaning access door located in the cellar directly below the Fireplace.  It may contain one or two bags or ash, or twenty five!  An Ash Pit clean-out is NEVER part of a regular Fireplace cleaning service.   Note: Customers wishing to have Northeast Chimney Sweeps clean their Ash Pit may request this as a springtime only service.  (Visit our pricing page.)


Multiple cleanings are not included in our standard pricing, though we do offer a discount for cleaning more than one item at a single appointment. Please understand that each FirePlace or WoodStove or Boiler / Furnace will have its own flue and will be treated as an individual cleaning.  (Visit our pricing page.)


Cleaning of the Furnace flue is not included!  It is important to understand that when a Fireplace system cleaning has been performed, we have not also cleaned the flue for the Furnace / Boiler / Water heater.  We do perform the service of Furnace flue cleaning on a regular basis as a separate item and at an additional, single-flue charge (discount applies).  Please do not mistake your multiple-item chimney for a single-flue structure.  If you have a Fireplace and a Heating system (gas or oil), each will vent separately through two (or more) individual flues.  Cleaning of one will leave the other untouched.    (Visit our pricing page.)

 What is Northeast Chimney Sweeps’ service area?

Northeast Chimney Sweeps services many towns in the eastern Massachusetts area.  The list is growing but typically we provide chimney service in Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Burlington, Billerica,  Lexington, Lynnfield, Medford, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Wilmington, Winchester and of course Northeast Chimney Sweeps has serviced and maintained customers in Woburn, MA since 1978.

How often should I have my chimney cleaned?

Rule of thumb in cleaning frequencies are listed below:

  • Wood burning stove – Yearly
  • Fireplace – 2 – 3 years depending upon how much you burn
  • Oil burner – 5 years (inspected every 3)
  • Most gas-fired heating does not produce soot, but its flue should still be checked for flue deterioration and debris regularly; about every 5-7 years.

How many flues does my chimney have?

A chimney (some call it a chimley) is a structure that may contain up to several separate flues.  Each flue is an independent escape path, through which smoke exits the home (think volcano or hallways of escape).    Generally speaking, each fireplace or heating system in your home will have its own flue.  How many flues you need cleaned is dependent upon the use and output of each system.  For instance, your fireplace will need cleaning more often than your gas flue because it leaves more residue, even though you use your gas burner  more.

Do I need to have all of my flues cleaned at once?

Having several flues does not necessarily mean that you will need them all cleaned.  Each flue is assessed independently.  In contrast to some, it has always been our policy to clean only those flues that need cleaning.

Doesn’t my oil burner company clean my furnace flue?

Nope!  No oil service company can clean your furnace flue.  They don’t have the equipment and it is outside their area of expertise.

  • A good oil company cleans the internal parts of your furnace or boiler.
  • A better oil company might also clean your furnace smoke pipe.
  • The best oil companies know to refer you to the experts at Northeast Chimney Sweeps.  80% of our business comes from referring companies and repeat customers.  (See our list of referrers.)