Chimney cleaning logs are used by many homeowners to clean away the build-up of creosote in their chimneys from frequent fireplace fires. Some homeowners may rely on these logs to cut the cost of cleaning their chimneys by extending the time between professional cleanings. Chimney cleaning logs work to a certain degree but are not claimed to be a complete substitute for proper chimney maintenance.
What Do Chimney Logs Do?
Chimney cleaning logs are a manufactured log product embedded with "chimney sweep" chemicals. These chemicals are used to break down the outer layer of creosote that develops along the walls of the chimney. Once the chimney log is lit and allowed to burn according to its instructions, these chemicals rise with the heat and deposit onto the creosote. With subsequent fires, the creosote is chemically broken down so that it can fall off as ash.
The chimney cleaning log is easy to light and costs a lot less than a standard chimney sweep. As the log burns, it deposits its chemicals on the outer creosote layer that develops from using the fireplace. Creosote is considered a fire hazard, so the log may help to cut down the creosote build-up in between chimney sweeps. Typically, results are not apparent until the fireplace is used a few times after the cleaning, when the creosote layer flakes will fall to the fireplace floor to be swept away.
The chimney cleaning log does not remove all of the creosote build-up in the chimney, nor does it claim to remove the other ash and soot build-up that lines the chimney's walls. It is not recommended that one substitute the log for a good and thorough chimney sweep, which will remove all of the layers of build-up, as well as use any necessary chemicals to break down the creosote.
One of the concerns associated with chimney sweeping logs is the misconception that these logs actually sweep away the soot, creosote and ash in the chimney. Furthermore, those who do not investigate their efficacy run the risk of developing a fire hazard within their homes if they do not maintain regular chimney sweeps.
One concern is, what happens to the flammable creosote if and when it falls to the bottom of the chimney? Does the cleaning log, by loosening these flakes, increase the likelihood of a chimney fire?
Furthermore, replacing a full-service chimney sweep with a cleaning log does nothing to remove the debris and animal homes that may be blocking the chimney's ventilation. A cleaning log is unable to diagnose these physical problems.
Cleaning logs likewise do not inspect the physical structure of the chimney, identifying necessary repairs or part replacements. In essence, chimney cleaning logs may only serve well as maintenance between chimney sweeps. But if you have your chimney swept yearly, there may be no need to spend the extra money on chimney cleaning logs.