Really upset with chimney sweep, made a mess!

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fprintf

Member
Mar 14, 2011
31
Central CT, USA
We hired Dean's Stove & Spa, here in Connecticut, to clean our chimney. The guy they sent did it from the inside and while he spread a tarp to stop any junk from getting on the floors, it created so much sooty dust inside the house that we have a film of black on the entire downstairs including on our nice furniture. The whole house needs to be cleaned now, all my woodwork, the blinds on the windows, my office, the kitchen etc.

We had no idea that it would make such a mess. Is this usual to have such a dusty experience? We keep up with the soot and dust that wood burning creates throughout the season, so the house is quite clean.

My wife said that you couldn't even tell that the mantle over the fireplace was even white. The white TV stand is a dull blackish grey color.

Is there something we should have done differently? Is this a normal occurrence that we just have to deal with every year or two? What is the best technique to pick up the soot from furniture and carpet so it doesn't turn the fabric black? I'm assuming gently vacuum the furniture.
 

fprintf

Member
Mar 14, 2011
31
Central CT, USA
Edit: Ok, so it turns out his vacuum was broken and was leaking sooty dust - more like blowing it - all over the downstairs. Dean's is trying to make good on it, but it is quite literally going to take us days to clean it up.

So, now the question still stands. How do you clean this stuff up without making more of a mess?
 

BrotherBart

Modestorator
Staff member
The filter busted on my Shop Vac one time and did the same thing. While my head was in the stove I didn't realize I was filling the house with soot. Momma was not happy.

The heck of it was that I had put the Shop Vac out on the deck but by yanking on the hose had turned it around and the exhaust was aimed right in the door.
 
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DanCorcoran

Minister of Fire
Jan 5, 2010
2,205
Richmond, VA
I suggest first considering what not to do: don't touch or use any kind of liquid cleaner on any soft surface (drapes, upholstery, etc.). I'd try to rig some sort of standoff on the vacuum cleaner nozzle, so it won't touch these surfaces except with something sharply pointed, so it'll exert suction without smearing.

Even better, contact a professional disaster cleanup company and let Dean's pay for it. (Our dry cleaning company has a separate disaster cleanup division that deals with flood damage, soot damage, etc.)
 

Nick Mystic

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2013
1,125
Western North Carolina
I've had this same thing happen to me when the filter on my shop vac slipped off and I had no idea what was going on since I had my head in the fireplace and was wearing a respirator. When the cloud of soot got so bad that I was tasting it through the respirator and my goggles were so filmed over that I could barely see I shut off the vac and discovered the house was full of a cloud of soot! Fortunately, my wife was at work, so I at least didn't have to deal with that end of it right off the bat. I was also fortunate that we have a whole house attic fan. I immediately opened the doors and windows and turned on the fan. Even though it was only 40 degrees outside I figured it was my best option. As I had hoped within about 15 minutes the house had cleared and I was only left with a film of soot covering most every thing in the living room, dining room, and kitchen. I had shut our cats up in our bedroom while I was cleaning the chimney, so that room got saved.

I next got out our regular vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter and took my time vacuuming everywhere I could get to. That did a pretty good job getting the soot up. On the hard surfaces, like in the kitchen, I just used a damp cloth and rinsed it often. Months later I was still seeing soot in places where I hadn't gotten to (like behind a chair I didn't move for instance). I must have done a pretty good job because my wife didn't say anything when she got home. The only comment she made was about all the soot in the bathtub when she took a shower. The shower curtain had been closed and I didn't think to look behind it!

As others have said, hopefully the chimney cleaning company has insurance and will step up and arrange to have your home professionally cleaned.
 

My Oslo heats my home

Minister of Fire
Sep 20, 2010
1,584
South Shore, MA
sorry about the bad experience. I'm one of those anal nuts that has to be there when the flue is getting cleaned. ( I also pump my own gas at full serve gas stations) My thinking is making sure its done right the first time, having been burned many times before.
 

fossil

Accidental Moderator
Sep 30, 2007
10,568
Bend, OR
I wouldn't touch any of it until the outfit you're dealing with says they've done what they're gonna do. It's their responsibility and it sounds like they understand that. Give them a chance, but don't share the responsibility with them, and don't let them forget they owe you until it's cleaned up to your satisfaction. Rick
 

Dave A.

Minister of Fire
Mar 17, 2013
614
SE PA
I wouldn't touch any of it until the outfit you're dealing with says they've done what they're gonna do. It's their responsibility and it sounds like they understand that. Give them a chance, but don't share the responsibility with them, and don't let them forget they owe you until it's cleaned up to your satisfaction. Rick
Good point. Though might be a good idea to put some pressure on them to do something quickly. Give them a fair deadline to act, and inform them that after that point you're going to be taking action on your own to fix the problem, and will be holding them responsible for any costs you incur. No reason you should have to sit around with unhealthy soot in your house for an extended period.

Edit: Though no point being confrontational at this point. You might just ask if they have someone they use who you should contact to schedule the work.
 

fprintf

Member
Mar 14, 2011
31
Central CT, USA
My wife got started on the cleanup pretty much right away. 8 hours later and we are still at it. I told her we should have just let them take care of it, but she doesn't trust a cleanup company to take care of our stuff like we would. Anyway the soot is everywhere, so when I got home I suggested we call now and have them come to fix it.

Anyway when she called them and told them she'd be doing the cleaning, they said to document how many hours we've spent cleaning and they will renumerate us for the work. If for nothing else, the house is getting a very thorough spring cleaning! Thanks for all the advice everyone.
 
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