What is the Best Time to Clean my Chimney?
Ideally, late summer or early fall is a great time to get your chimney inspection and/or chimney cleaning. Before you think about building a fire because of cooler weather, you should call a chimney sweep.
How Often Should I get my Chimney Cleaned?
This depends on how much you use your fireplace. If you don’t use your chimney a lot – birds, squirrels, raccoons and other critters may have been using your chimney, making it unsafe to use without clearing out the accumulated debris from nesting activity.
Heavy use of a fireplace will produce an incredible amount of soot and creosote. Removing this material is critical to continued safe use of the fireplace. When these highly combustible materials build up to unsafe levels you run a greater risk of a chimney fire. A chimney fire can damage the chimney and quickly spread to the roof and home. Speaking from experience, when the firemen show up to put out your chimney fire, they will likely destroy many surfaces and possessions in the room that has the fireplace. Water and smoke damage is much more costly than an annual chimney inspection.
The National Fire Protection Association says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”
The CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) says that fireplaces should be cleaned when 1/8″ of sooty buildup is evident inside the chimney and flue system. If any glaze is appearing in the flue, cleaning should be done even if there is less than 1/8″ of build up. Any time an appreciable accumulation of soot and creosote occurs it can be enough to fuel
When Do I Need A Chimney Inspection?
If you haven’t had your chimney inspected in a year or more, if you are having any performance issues with your chimney, fireplace or heating system or if you have recently purchased the home you should schedule an inspection. Normal wear and tear that is left unchecked will affect the performance of your system. If you have added a stove or insert, it is also a good time to get your chimney inspected. The longer defects go without being addressed, the more expensive the repairs are likely to be.
Does my gas fireplace need inspected?
While there is no soot and creosote to worry about, it is a good idea to have your gas fireplace inspected annually. A gas fireplace technician will check out the glass for chips/cracks, will make sure the ignition is working flawlessly, will determine if your log set needs replaced and/or cleaned and will check the valves and gas connection. They technician may also check your carbon monoxide detectors. Gas fireplaces do not emit smoke into the room when something goes wrong, but they can fill your room with carbon monoxide, which is odorless and can be deadly. It’s important to have carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your house, however, don’t install one right above your gas fireplace.
Safety should always be a priority in your home. Your family is worth it! A little maintenance each year can go a long way in giving you peace of mind as you enjoy the warm, cozy fires throughout the winter months.