It’s only human nature to seek the easiest and least costly way of doing something. Such innovations are often, though not always, the mark of progress. Take the case of chimney sweeping, a traditionally dirty job, as any viewer of “Mary Poppins” can attest. Along came chimney sweeping logs, known to “clean” your chimney with little or no effort and very low cost.

Sounds too good to be true – and we know how that typically ends up.

Please allow Northeastern Masonry & Chimney to chime in with some reasonable commentary on this somewhat controversial topic.

Firstly, what is a chimney sweeping log? It’s a log treated with minerals or chemicals designed to break down chimney build-up. All agree that creosote accumulation in the walls of your chimney or flue is not goo. It poses several health and safety risks, including the possibility of a chimney fire. However, note that – despite the various commercial names – none of these logs do any sweeping. They don’t grow wings and fly up into your chimney. Ever.

Do chimney sweeping logs actually work?

Well, it depends on what you mean by “work.”

Some of these products have been partially effective in breaking down creosote in chimneys. But there have not been definitive “before” and “after” comparisons or controlled studies to evaluate effectiveness.

If a log, or any passive device, is effective, it would have to be for a straight chimney without any bends or curves.

No matter how effective a chimney sweeping log might be, all experts end up saying you better add the human touch. Real-life professionals – chimney sweeps — have to take a look-see and scrub with steel brushes.

Even in the case of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) granting an endorsement for one of these products, the CSIA goes out of its way to point out: “For improved safety and home heating efficiency, CSIA recommends that all chimneys and vented appliances be inspected every year by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep®.”

In addition, the CSIA goes on to note that a log “will not tell you if your chimney is blocked or has any kind of structural damage.” So, plain and simple, there’s no safe substitute for mechanical sweeping of a chimney.

Speaking of chimney blockages, that’s a key issue that a log can’t see or remedy.

A professional sweeping removes bird or rodent nests, leaves or twigs, or any other debris that may be hidden and lodged in your chimney system.

Northeastern Masonry & Chimney technicians are trained to sweep properly. Additionally, our sweeps are CSIA-certified experts, and are members of the NYSCG (New York State Chimney Guild) and the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG). We also follow standards and recommendations of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Northeastern Masonry & Chimney serves the Capital District, the Hudson Valley, Northern and Central New York and Western Massachusetts. We are proud of our record of chimney sweep service. Call us today at (518)767-9315 to make a clean sweep, and let logs be logs.