How Often Do You Need to Clean Your Chimney?

Chimney Cleaning / Chimney Inspection Should Be Done Annually
by Dave Lamb – dave@mychimneys.com
Why Should I get my Chimney Cleaned?

The job of the chimney sweep is to remove soot, blockages and built-up creosote from your chimney liner, firebox, smoke chamber and damper. This cleaning will help create a safer operation of your system during the heating system. It take only a small accumulation of creosote glazing to create the potential for a chimney fire. Creosote is a highly flammable substance that builds up inside your chimney or liner as a result of burning wood. The rate of accumulation can be higher if you practice poor burning practices or have a burning appliance or stove that is not working well. Different types of wood create different amounts of creosote when burned. Pine causes a rapid build-up of creosote and should be avoided as a regular source of wood. Creosote can also reduce the draw of the fireplace and reduce efficiency.

Chimney Inspections should be scheduled once a year.

To be sure that all of your systems are in working order and operating as they should, it is recommended that homeowners get an annual chimney inspection. Most homeowners opt to have a Chimney Cleaning done every year as well, especially if they use their fireplace on a regular basis. Other venting systems connected to furnaces and stoves should also be cleaned on a regular basis to maintain safer operation. Fireplace, stove, furnace and heating appliance systems are important to your home and families safety and not an area to neglect or cut corners on. Don’t risk the chance that an undiscovered defect could turn into an expensive repair or worse yet – a chimney fire.

If you only have minimal use of your fireplace or stove, an inspection is still advised annually to look at all heating venting systems, chimneys, stove systems and furnace flues. During these inspections any defects or issues that may be found that require action even if cleaning is not needed.

When you have a regular chimney sweep company that you use, they will generally put you on an annual inspection schedule. During these inspections they will advise you if it is time to sweep.

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. Don’t wait – waiting almost always results in additional repairs, and unfortunately sometimes in property loss. Every year in the US homeowners lose over 200 million dollars as a result of continuing to use unsafe systems.

Another important time to get your venting systems inspected is when you have upgraded or changed heating systems or added a stove or insert. An inspection will make sure that your chimney, lining and venting systems are adequate and in working order to handle the new changes.

If you have not used your fireplace in a long time, pests may have built nests that could clog your flue or chimney chamber. Winter freeze cycles and moisture combine to take an annual toll on masonry and liner materials too. Over several years the deterioration will eventually require attention. Normal wear and tear that is left unchecked will affect the performance of your system. The longer the defects go without being addressed, the more expensive the repairs are likely to be. Bottom line is – staying on top of your systems is not only the smartest and safest choice, it ends up being the most cost-effective too.

How Often Should I get my Chimney Cleaned?

This depends a lot on how much you use your fireplace or stove. 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.” So, even if you don’t use your chimney a whole 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.

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 a chimney fire that may damage the chimney and even spread to the roof and home. Furnace flue systems also require cleaning, so don’t neglect regular cleaning of those venting systems.

Some heavy use fireplaces produce an incredible amount of soot and creosote during a cleaning. Recently we removed nearly 2 full 5 gallon buckets of material from one chimney! Removing this material is critical to continued safe use of the fireplace and reduced risk of chimney fires that start when this highly combustible material builds up to unsafe levels.

What is the Best Time to Clean my Chimney?

Ideally, before the start of the burning season during the summer or early fall is a great time to get your chimney inspection and / or chimney cleaning. Before you think about building a fire or starting up your furnace because the weather has changed, is the time to call your chimney sweep. Maybe you forgot the early cleaning before starting to use the fireplace, stove or furnace? Don’t wait until next year, we can do your chimney cleaning or inspection any time of year. Call the office now at 860-233-5770.

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