When to Get Your Chimney Cleaned
As we enter the winter months, most of us are more tuned-in to holiday festivities than the sooty build-up inside our chimney. Chimney cleaning is an often-neglected maintenance project, but ignoring this task for too long has dangerous consequences. If it’s been a year or more since your chimney was last inspected and cleaned, it’s probably time!
Before the winter chill sets in and fireplace usage increases is an optimal period to address fireplace and chimney maintenance! The National Fire Protection Association recommends “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” Inspections and regular cleaning are vital for detecting the problems that can lead to fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and even structural damage.
If you use your fireplace regularly, annual chimney cleaning is especially important, but even if you don’t, birds, squirrels, or other critters may be calling your chimney home. When this occurs, the accumulated nesting debris creates a flammable safety hazard.
Everyone wants to breathe healthy air inside his or her home! Dirty chimney flues can result in backdrafts that pump carcinogenic air into your house! Chimney cleaning keeps flues clear and eliminates backdrafts, improving the air quality inside your home.
Additionally, creosote buildup is extremely flammable. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, creosote build-up will inevitably occur. The rate at which it occurs is dependent upon the type of wood burned and whether the wood is seasoned or unseasoned. Unseasoned woods contain more moisture, which creates greater amounts of smoke pollution than seasoned woods. Larger amounts of smoke result in more chimney buildup. Other considerations like how hot a fire burns also contribute to the rate of build-up. As a result, many experts do not recommend burning unseasoned softwoods like pine regularly because they create the highest levels of soot and creosote. Most chimneys will have some amount of visible buildup. So, how much is too much? According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), “fireplaces should be cleaned when 1/8” of sooty buildup is evident inside the chimney and flue system.”
An annual chimney cleaning by a licensed professional, ideally prior to the heaviest fireplace usage period, should be added to your home systems maintenance schedule. Regular cleaning extends your chimney’s longevity, eliminates fire hazards, and improves indoor air quality!