The Creosote Sweeping Log: What it is and How it Works

Chimney Sweeping Logs can help make a professional chimney cleaning more effective

For anyone who uses an open fire or wood-burning stove consistently, there will inevitably be a build-up in their chimney as a result of the compounds that are released into the air as part of the burning process. These compounds collectively are called creosote. They are generated regardless of the kind of wood used to make a fire, though different burning conditions will result in different forms of creosote being deposited. Creosote clings to the sides of the chimney, creating a potential fire hazard. Particularly dangerous and hard to remove is creosote which forms a sticky tar. 

A Creosote Sweeping Log (CSL) contains minerals which actively help to dry out the creosote and tar, which subsequently reduces the risk of fire, and still enables the homeowner to enjoy the benefits of their fire during the cleaning process. It is essential to understand that a Creosote Sweeping Log is not a replacement for having a chimney professionally cleaned, but it can deliver benefits and help reduce the risk of a fire in the period between professional chimney cleanings. It can also make cleaning a chimney using physical methods easier and more effective.

How Does A Creosote Sweeping Log Work?

  1. The first piece of advice to anyone contemplating using a Creosote Sweeping Log is to light a wood fire first. The wood fire will heat the tar within the chimney as well as improve the draft, which is essential for the chemicals released in the burning of the CSL to be distributed well so they can do their work. On average, a CSL will burn for 90 minutes. 
  2. As the CSL burns, it releases smoke containing specific chemicals. These additives then attach themselves to the creosote deposits as they rise up the chimney or flue. As a consequence, the creosote deposits are slowly reduced and the likelihood of the creosote being able to cause a chimney fire is diminished, which in turn makes using the fire significantly safer. 
  3. The benefits derived from using a Creosote Sweeping Log continue to develop for about two to three weeks after it is burned as the CSL additives continue their work. Be aware if you have an open fireplace that there is a possibility that some of the creosote may fall back down the chimney into the fireplace.
  4. The final benefit of using a Creosote Sweeping Log is that when the time comes to have your chimney swept, the chimney will be able to be cleaned much more effectively because there is not such an extensive build-up of creosote. In addition, much of the tar present is rendered easier to remove.

Is a Creosote Sweeping Log Compatible With All Types of Chimney? 

Creosote Sweeping Logs are compatible with fireplaces, wood stoves, fireplace inserts, gas starter fireplaces, wood/coal stoves, wood/oil mixed boilers, and wood furnaces. They should never be used with BBQs, gas logs, electrical appliances, oil stoves, or pellet stoves. 

Because the majority of chimney issues are out of sight, it can be very easy to forget about regular maintenance and cleaning. A CSL can be a helpful part of that process. But remember that a CSL is not meant to replace a professional chimney cleaning, but to supplement it. We will discuss this further in our next blog.

Before you begin using your fireplace for the winter, make sure you are doing so safely. Using a CSL can be helpful, but give us a call to schedule a professional chimney cleaning, as well.

How Do I Know if My Chimney Needs Cleaning?

We all live busy lives and have one hundred and one different things to worry about, so it is easy to pay little or no attention to your chimney. Reliable and faithful, most chimneys will keep working flawlessly for long periods of time, but that does not mean they do not require maintenance from time to time. But many people have no real idea when their chimney needs to be swept, or leave it until the situation becomes so bad it is dangerous. This post aims to provide our customers with some basic knowledge of the symptoms of a dirty chimney so that you can be proactive rather than reactive and ensure that your chimney is performing at its best and safest.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Badly Burning Chimney?

Once you know what to look for, it is relatively easy to identify when your chimney needs to be swept. As you might expect, a dirty or blocked chimney will become much less effective over time, and could even become a danger. Here are some of the signs your chimney needs cleaning:

  • Smoke Blowing Back into the Room – The most obvious symptom is when smoke is blown back into the room. While this can tend to happen because your chimney has a particularly bad downdraft, it is an especially cold day outside, or you are not building your fires well. If you are smoking yourself out regularly with your fires, you need to get your chimney checked.
  • Visible Signs of Tar – If you notice black, sticky deposits of creosote, which are visible to the human eye, then you should call a chimney sweep immediately. This kind of creosote is most likely to be responsible for chimney fires.
  • Soot Dropping Down Your Fireplace – When the chimney is dirty and starting to become blocked, you will often notice that the excess soot no longer sticks inside the chimney but instead starts to drop back down into the fireplace. This is a symptom of a dirty chimney that needs to be swept. If you don’t have a fireplace but a wood stove instead, make sure you take some time to listen for this.
  • A Poorly Burning Fire – A good fire requires three elements to ensure that it burns well – heat, fuel, and oxygen. When a chimney needs to be cleaned, it will become increasingly difficult to light a fire, and it often will not continue to burn well. More and more air will be required to keep the burn going. This may be because there is an insufficient oxygen flow caused by a dirty or blocked chimney.
  • Signs or Sounds of Animals – When you are not using your fireplace, many birds and small animals are attracted to a chimney due to the warmth and protection from the elements. Sometimes if you listen carefully, you will hear birds in your chimney or notice numerous dropped twigs where they are trying to build a nest. In the worst-case scenario, a large nest could block the entire flue, meaning that dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide are forced back inside your home. This is one great reason to make sure you have a cap on your chimney.

Our hope when creating this article was to inform people of some of the easy-to-spot signs and symptoms that would identify a dirty chimney. If you have any questions or concerns about your chimney cleaning requirements, then contact us at our Portland, Vancouver or Salem offices. We will be glad to answer any questions you might have.

Fire Safety – Clean Your Dryer Vents

A professional dryer vent cleaning makes a big difference

The humble dryer is one of the most popular and useful gadgets in the home, and yet without proper maintenance, it can be a threat to your safety. The biggest issue is that our clothes produce lint, and over time this lint will slowly build up in your dryer vent lines. Left unchecked, this can cause a serious fire risk. And while cleaning your dryer vents seems like a simple job, you will find out quickly that without the right tools, things can get tricky, which is of course why we would encourage you to call us for a free quote from the best dryer vent cleaning service in Portland.

Regardless of what you choose, we hope this breakdown of the why and the how of cleaning your dryer vents is helpful.

What is Lint?

It often amazes people just how much lint comes off their clothing when they use a dryer. But what exactly is lint? Lint is made up of tiny fibers which come away from the edge of your clothing. Every time you wear a piece of clothing, minuscule pieces of fiber break off, but through the force of static electricity (and for numerous other reasons), they stick to the outside of the garment. When you use your dryer, the moisture removes the dirt and loose fibers from your clothing, which is then deposited in your dryer and its vent. This lint builds up in the dryer and dryer vent over time unless cleaned.

Why is Lint Dangerous?

The biggest issue with lint is that it restricts the airflow of your dryer which in turn causes a buildup of hot air, which (besides reducing the efficiency of your dryer) creates a fire hazard. Of course, lint is extremely dry, and the smallest spark can cause a big fire.

Between 2010 and 2014, US fire departments responded to over 15,000 home fires involving clothes dryers. Of those fires, 27% were a result of dust, fiber, or lint.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, produced a report in which it determined that of 15,000 fires studied in one year, electric dryers were over two times as likely as gas dryers to be the cause of fire.

Easy Steps to Clean Your Dryer and Eliminate Lint Buildup

The first thing to do is locate your dryer’s lint trap, which is normally at the front of the machine. Remove the trap and scrape away any lint.  Of course, this is the same process that should be repeated each time you put in a new load of laundry to dry. For a more complete clean, you would then use a vacuum cleaner to suck up any lint which has become trapped down the side of the filter. This can be tricky to do without the equipment that a professional dryer vent cleaning service provides. Once all of the lint has been removed, replace the lint trap.

Clean the Dryer Exhaust Piping

The exhaust piping is normally found at the back of the dryer. Push your dryer away from the wall, and locate the (usually) aluminium tube which runs from the dryer to the wall. Metal ring clamps are normally how dryer vents are secured. Use the appropriate tool to loosen the clamps, and pull the piping away from the wall and the dryer. Holding the tube upright, slide a dryer vent duct brush down the piping. If you do not have a duct brush (the tool used by a dryer vent cleaning service), you will either have to buy one or improvise. A good tip is to slowly rotate the brush as you are removing it. Be careful to avoid puncturing the side of the piping. You will probably need to repeat this procedure a few times to capture and remove all of the lint. For any particles the brush misses, a vacuum cleaner is the answer.

Final Steps

It is also important to check your home’s exterior vent, as sometimes lint will accumulate there. Ensure that exterior vent is not being blocked. Your aluminum piping may not connect directly to an exterior vent, as in the case of a laundry room which is in the middle of the house. In this case, you may have another, longer tube to clean out. But if this is the case for you, it is even more important that you keep all of your dryer vent piping clean, as buildup of lint is going to have a greater effect on dryer performance and could increase the risk for fire. Once you have completed the process it is time to reconnect the vent, then turn on your dryer for about 10 to 15 minutes. The reason for this is to push out any excess lint which may be in the tubing or stuck in the outer vent.

In all this, being thorough is key. We want to remove any old, dry material that may be liable to cause fire. If you are not confident in your ability to do the job completely, we encourage you to contact our friendly customer service team, who will be happy to arrange an appointment for one of our technicians to complete the task for you. The cost to get your dryer vent cleaned is very reasonable. You could decide to do the job yourself, but without using the proper equipment there is a chance you could make the situation worse.

Common Duct Cleaning Scams

HVAC Cleaning Scams

How to Avoid Being Taken To The Cleaners by the Cleaners 

Air duct cleaning is not an easy job. When done right, it is not as cheap as some unreliable companies would have you believe. That is why these types of companies always offer the best deals and coupons. The biggest mistake a customer can make is to think that all companies provide the same high level of quality duct cleaning services. Scam companies will provide a nominal quote which makes reliable companies seem way too expensive. However, it may be too late before you find out that the quality of work is not up to par and you have wasted your money. Be sure to keep an eye out for a few of the scams outlined below when choosing your next duct cleaning company.

The Air Duct Cleaner “Bait and Switch” 

This particular scam begins with a coupon that seems too good to be true. That is because it is. Once in your home, the company will perform minimal work and continually offer upgrades for additional fees. Even if you give in and buy all of the upsells, you are still not going to get quality work from this kind of company.

The “Quick and Dirty” Air Duct Scam  

This scam involves companies who overbook themselves in order to keep their prices low. They will come to your home and clean only the part of the air ducts that you can see before quickly moving on to the next appointment. Since there is no deep cleaning involved, conditions are left worse than before. This kind of scam is harmful to the duct systems in your home because it pushes the dust and debris further into the system, making it harder to reach.  This can then recirculate the dust and microbes in the air that is circulating in your home, contaminating the air you breathe.

The “Mold Inspection Scam” 

This type of scam is the most common. You see a great coupon offer for duct cleaning, so you call the company, and they come over for a scheduled cleaning.  Once in your house, they “inspect” for mold, and they say that they have found it no matter if mold is present or not. Now the cleaning job costs hundreds more for mold remediation. The company had no real intention of cleaning ducts for the quoted price. They always find mold so they can increase their price. They even go as far as bringing mold samples with them and bringing fake tests to show to the customer to convince them.

In the end, when it comes to duct cleaning, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.  Professional air duct cleaning is not as cheap as some coupon offers make it seem. Credible companies do have higher prices, but they are upfront about their prices and honest about their work. Remember, cheap coupons and scam companies result in expensive visits and unsatisfactory results. That is why it is essential that you remember these scams and try to avoid them when hiring a duct cleaning professional.  For a quality and reliable job, do not take any risks and contact the experts at



How To Know If Your Ducts Need To Be Cleaned

When to clean your air ducts

Do you notice dust coming out of the air ducts in your home every time you turn on the HVAC system? Have you seen any dust or pet hair trapped in the vents or dirt on the grill for the air register? This might be an indicator that your ductwork needs to be cleaned.  So, how can you be sure?  Read ahead for some sure-fire signs that you have dirty air ducts in your home.

The Presence of Mold in your HVAC system

Your home ventilation system needs to be cleaned and serviced twice a year to keep it running correctly and cleanly. Since both air conditioners and furnaces can develop condensation, mold growth is a possibility, especially if you live in a humid climate. If mold is found in your air handler, it does not guarantee that your ductwork has been affected, but it increases the chances. An air duct cleaning technician will be able to get rid of mold and prevent its return.

A Brand New Home Or A Major Reconstruction 

Even if a construction crew is extremely careful about clean up, dust and debris will find its way into the air vents. If the HVAC system is not turned on and covered, the dust will get into the ductwork. Construction dust can be toxic, so it is best to get this issue remedied quickly before respiratory problems develop.

You Have A “Naturally Dusty” Home

If you find that your home is always dusty no matter how often you clean, you probably need your ducts clean. Take a quick look around your house and check the supply and return vents as well as the ductwork. Are they dirty and dusty? If the answer is yes, call a duct cleaning expert to get them cleaned as soon as possible.

Rising Heating And Cooling Costs

If you have received a heating or cooling bill that is noticeably high, check your records from the previous year. If it is not consistent from the same time last year, your home ductwork may be to blame. Sometimes, ductwork becomes so dirty that the air isn’t able to flow through the HVAC system efficiently. When this happens, the air conditioner or furnace is forced to work harder to maintain temperature, thus using more energy. This means higher utility bills for you and your family.

A visit from a professional air duct cleaning service every 3 to 5 years on top of your scheduled maintenance can prevent many problems before they start. You will also save money on your heating and cooling bills. Your system will be better and reliable, you will have fewer expensive repairs, and your home will be easier to clean.

The bottom line is the cleaning of your HVAC system is not a DIY project. This needs to be handled by a professional with industry-standard equipment made to handle the size of all kinds of homes. Remember, do not hesitate. If you believe your ducts need cleaning, make an appointment to have them cleaned as soon as possible.




5 Types Of Molds That Are Commonly Found in Your Air Ducts

One of the most significant and frequent problems homeowners face when it comes to home maintenance is mold issues. Mold is hazardous for anyone living in the home. Mold can be complicated to spot at the outset and much harder to remediate later on.

Mold grows in areas of your home that are dark, damp, and colder than the rest of the building. It can occur in any part of the house, even in appliances if not attended to appropriately.

Although mold can be found anywhere, one of the most common places that it spawns is in air conditioners and air ducts. Because of the nature of air conditioners, it is easy for mold to prosper and difficult for homeowners to deal with. This is because air conditioners generally stay damp all day and they continuously have moisture running through them. Compared to the rest of the house, temperatures inside air conditioners are significantly lower, making it an ideal spot for mold to grow and spread.

Before you can take care of the problem of mold in your air ducts, it is essential to know the most common types of mold and what they look like. Below you will find five examples of the most commonly found mold types that are found in air ducts, air conditioners, and vents.


Aspergillus is one of the more complicated kinds of mold to identify because there are so many forms that it can take on. There are several colors that this type takes on, most commonly green, yellow or white.


Chaetomium most commonly grows on walls, but it can appear in ducts and vents. It most often looks like a brown cotton-like substance. The problem with Chaetomium is that the color changes over time, making it harder to distinguish.


Alternaria is arguably the most commonly found type of mold. It is green or brown and has a velvet texture. This kind of mold grows in areas that are moist for a significant amount of time, namely air ducts and vents.


Fusarium is a type of mold that tends to grow in spots where there has been water damage, usually on walls. However, it is also prevalent in places where water is continuously running through a space such as air vents if there has been any water damage to them.


Acremonium is a common type of mold that grows in areas that are damp and wet. This particular type of mold is highly toxic and grows over time, taking on the appearance of a white powdery substance.

Exposure to mold is hazardous. This is why it becomes incredibly important to make sure you have your ducts cleaned regularly. At Willard Duct Cleaning our expertise lies in ensuring that your ducts are cleaned properly and efficiently. All of our staff are equipped with special tools to identify and deal with mold efficiently and safely without exposing you and your family to the toxic spores.





Leading Portland HVAC Cleaner Warns About The Importance Of Indoor Air Quality As Hay Fever Season Approaches

Portland, OR – Willard Power Vac, a leading provider of HVAC cleaning services, is today highlighting the importance of ensuring good indoor air quality, as the pollen counts start to rise. According to the local weather experts, 2018 is shaping up to be one of the worst allergy seasons in recent memory. For people who suffer from allergies and hay fever, this is news that they will be dreading, but rather than suffer through the spring and summer, Willard Power Vac are advising people to take proactive action.

HVAC systems when functioning correctly provide allergy sufferers with one of the best weapons in their battle against pollen and other causes of this exhausting illness. Willard Power Vac is a locally owned and operated company, with many years of knowledge and experience dealing with this type of problem, and their first piece of advice would be to invest in professional air duct cleaning.

Many people believe that nothing can be done, other than popping anti-allergy pills which can leave them tired and exhausted all of the time. Don’t simply assume that your indoor air quality is excellent. Air quality testing is an great place to start, and can provide the answers to many of the questions sufferers may be asking.

“As a local company, with many years of experience in the field, we understand just how debilitating and exhausting the spring and summer months can be for allergy sufferers,” said a Willard Power Vac Inc representative. “We have verifiable evidence and testimonials from our customers, who cannot believe the difference utilizing our services made to their life. Never assume that your indoor air quality is good or excellent, have it regularly tested, and be proactive when it comes to cleaning out your HVAC system.”

Willard Power Vac, Inc was established in 1975 and is a leading provider of HVAC cleaning for both residential and business premises, in Portland Oregon. They aim to provide customers with an honest and trustworthy service. Willard Power Vac always strives to provide their clients with the best possible work when cleaning commercial, residential and industrial HVAC systems. For more information about the company, visit their website at


Avoid a fire disaster with simple maintenance

Every year the buildup of lint in dryer vents causes fires. When this lint is allowed to build up a can cause a tremendous amount of flammable material packed tightly into the vents and duct. The heat from the dryer, or a spark of static electricity, can easily create a fire that spreads rapidly. Because this fire is begun in a duct, it can go undetected for quite some time. Once this fire reaches the dryer, it can be completely out of control. The fire can move through the walls of your home and within a very short period can completely consume the house.

Dryer vent and air duct cleaning will clear out the duct behind your dryer to make sure that the lint is removed and the equipment is in good working order. Not only does this protect your home from the potential of a serious fire, but it also helps your dryer to work better. The buildup of lint can prevent your dryer from using heat and air flow properly, which reduces its ability to dryer laundry. This means that you may be tempted to run your laundry through the dryer several times, or using heat setting that is higher than what is appropriate for your clothing. This puts your clothing at risk of damage, can burn your dryer out, and waste a tremendous amount of energy. Regularly utilizing dryer vent cleaning will help your equipment function better and last longer while also protecting your home from the risk of a dryer lint fire.

Duct cleaning could solve many indoor air quality woes

A growing concern in the indoor air quality business, is that in IAQ investigations the hvac systems are so frequently overlooked.

After attending courses on IAQ and talking with the industrial hygienists, hvac contractors, building engineers, and others related to the field, I find an alarming number of IAQ investigators are finding the cause but are overlooking the need for an hvac cleaning company to clean the systems.

sick building syndrome indicatorsIn most cases of SBS (sick building syndrome PDF) or where there is an IAQ problem, the need to have the duct system professionally cleaned is being grossly overlooked. Also, the need for adequate air filtration is being ignored.

By having 18 years of experience in the hvac cleaning business, I have been involved in numerous stages of IAQ investigations and almost every time, the ventilation system was overlooked. in most cases the ductwork, heating units, and air filters were so poorly maintained and dirty that they often were the cause of SBS.

In most cases, once these systems are professionally cleaned and the proper air filtration installed, the SBS and IAQ complaints go away.

I look at these IAQ courses being held all over the country and I think there needs to be a block of instruction on the importance of cleaning and maintaining the hvac systems from an IAQ perspective. In our high-tech world, too often people look for complicated solutions, when it is often very simple.

The advantages of a clean hvac system for building engineers who are having problems with balancing a system and answering all the complaints would be to have a much-more-efficient system with less complaints and a much more cost-effective system.

For building owners, the advantages are again more-efficient, less-costly systems and happy tenants — also, a lower risk for lawsuits.

I personally have been involved in several phase-one IAQ investigations, and in most cases, solved the problem before it got out of control by simply cleaning the system.

Matthew E. Willard
Willard Power Vac, Inc.
Portland, Oregon

How to Avoid Air Duct Cleaning Scams

With the growing demand for duct cleaning services to improve indoor air quality, scam artists are making millions from unsuspecting homeowners looking for a good deal. The biggest mistake homeowners make is to assume they will receive quality services from whichever company they choose. Their choice is based on the price alone, which in this case could range from $49 dollars to $800 dollars or more. Such an abnormal range only confirms the fact that there are many scam artists out there looking to make a quick buck at your expense.

air-duct-cleaning-scamBeware Low prices

Unreliable companies draw customers by offering the best deals, which is why you will find numerous coupons offering the service for less than $100 dollars. It is worth noting that proper air duct cleaning is quite difficult; reaching inside the air ducts and cleaning all the parts of the system requires hours of hard work, knowledgeable technicians and advanced equipment. In fact, a quality service will cost upwards of $300 dollars, depending on the size of your home, the number of vents and their configuration.

You’ll Receive Low quality work

A company offering these services for less than $100 dollars would obviously be operating at a loss – unless what they actually do falls short of quality service. Proper air duct cleaning will typically take about two to three hours, but scam artists will quickly go through the house, vacuuming a few vents and be done in less than an hour. They may also use inadequate tools and equipment, such as handheld vacuums and drills. Most good companies use outdoor vented equipment that ensures the dust and debris captured is vented and contained outside the home.

Typical Bait and switch

A common scam approach is the bait and switch tactic. You are offered an amazing coupon deal, but this is only to get the con artist through duct_cleaning_scam_advertisementthe door. Once inside your home, they perform minimal work and then offer you upgrades to the service for additional fees. Note that even if you give in to their schemes and pay for the up-sells, you still won’t get quality work done.

Tack on Extras like Mold

Another common scam is when a “mold inspection” is performed. To your disadvantage they always find mold contamination even if it’s not true, just so they can charge for more services. Such companies can even fake tests or bring the mold with them in an attempt to convince you.

What to do

Most reputable companies provide a free inspection and estimate, so asking for written estimates is one way to avoid scams. As a rule, avoid outrageously low offers. They might actually damage your ducts and force you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements. Additionally, if a company tells you that you have mold in your air ducts, it is advisable to have a qualified mold testing firm visit your home to verify this.

Cheap coupons will often become the most expensive route in the end – and there’s no guarantee the work will be done well because you are, in fact, working with a scam artist. A reputable company may seem expensive at first, but this is because they are providing an honest price for honest work.