Why should you have your chimney cleaned?

Chimney Maintenance

The work of a chimney sweep is to eliminate blockages, soot and accumulated creosote from your chimney liner, damper, smoke chamber and firebox. Cleaning this way will help to establish a safer operation of your chimney system during the heating process. Just a tiny buildup of creosote glazing is all it takes to create the possibility of a chimney fire. Creosote is a highly inflammable material that accumulates inside your liner or chimney due to burning wood. The buildup rate can increase if you have bad burning practices or when your stove or burning appliance is not functioning properly. Different kinds of wood produce different quantities of creosote after burning. Regular use of pine as a source of wood fuel results in rapid creosote build-up and should be avoided. Creosote reduces the efficiency of heating and can also lead to the fireplace losing its appeal.


Chimney Inspections must be scheduled annually

A lot of homeowners choose to have their chimneys cleaned every year, particularly if they use their fireplace regularly. The other venting systems that are connected to stoves and furnaces must also be cleaned regularly to facilitate safe operation. Furnaces, fireplaces, heating appliances and stoves are essential to the safety of your home and family and should not be neglected or skimped on. Do not take the chance of having hidden defects that could lead to costly repairs or even worse, chimney fires.

It is recommended that homeowners should arrange to have annual chimney inspections in order to ensure that all the chimney systems are in good working condition and are operating optimally.

Even if you have little use of your stove or fireplace, it is still advisable to inspect the stove systems, furnace flues, heating venting systems and chimneys every year. Any defects or problems that might be found during these inspections need to be acted upon, even where cleaning is not required.

If you have one chimney sweep company that you regularly use, they will, in most cases, place you on an annual inspection schedule. In the course of these inspections they will give you guidance on when you should sweep.

When do you require a chimney inspection?

If you have not arranged to have your chimney inspected in one year or more, if there are issues regarding the performance of your chimney, heating system or fireplace or if you have recently bought your home, you must arrange for a chimney inspection. It is not advisable to wait since this may lead to additional repairs or worse still, property loss. Home owners in the US lose more than two hundred million dollars every year because of continuous usage of defective systems.

Another critical time to have your venting systems checked is after upgrading (or changing) the heating systems or after adding a fireplace insert or stove. An inspection will ensure that your chimney, venting systems and lining are sufficient and can cope with the new changes.

When should you clean your chimney?

In theory, before the burning season commences in spring, summer or the beginning of autumn. This is a good time to have your chimney inspected and/or cleaned. Before you consider lighting up your furnace or building a fire due to weather changes, this is the best time to get in touch with your chimney sweep.

Everyday wear and tear, if not controlled, will have an effect on your system’s performance.

If your fireplace has remained unused for a long time, pests might have built nests that can block your chimney chamber or flue. Moisture combined with annual winter freeze cycles can also take a heavy toll on liner materials and masonry. After a number of years, the deterioration will finally need attention.  The longer the problems remain unaddressed, the higher the repair bill is likely to be. In essence, monitoring your systems is not only the safest and smartest option, but it is economical too.

How frequently should your chimney be cleaned?

This depends mainly on how frequently you use your stove or fireplace. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireplaces, vents and chimneys must be inspected at least once annually to ascertain that they are in good working condition, they have the right clearances and they are free from deposits. In addition cleaning, repairs and maintenance must be done if it is required. Therefore even if you do not use your chimney a lot, raccoons, birds, squirrels and other animals might have been using your chimney, rendering it unsafe to use without cleaning out the built-up debris caused by nesting activities.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that fireplaces need to be cleaned when 1/8 inches of sooty buildup is noticeable inside the flue system and chimney.

If any glaze can be seen in the flue, cleaning must be done immediately even though it is less than 1/8 inches of buildup. That glaze is a highly inflammable type of creosote that has accumulated over other creosote layers before they dry out. This usually occurs when wet or unseasoned wood fuel is burned, when the draft control of an appliance that is airtight is set too low-resulting in a smoldering fire or when the chimney is bigger than the appliance’s vent opening. Removal of this type of creosote is difficult and requires seasoned professionals. Whenever a considerable accumulation of creosote and scoot ensues, it may be enough to spark a fire that can damage the chimney or even spread to the roof and engulf the entire home. Furnace flue systems also need to be cleaned. Therefore, do not forget to clean those venting systems regularly.

Some heavily-used fireplaces produce an unbelievable amount of creosote and soot during a cleaning session. It is not uncommon to remove about 10 gallons of material from a single chimney. Removing this material is important for continued safe usage of the fireplace. In addition it minimizes the risk of chimney fires that start once this highly inflammable material accumulates to dangerous levels.

You do not have to wait until the fall because we can inspect or clean your chimney any time of the year.