6 Reasons to Get a Chimney Cleaning & Inspection Before Winter
Warming up and unwinding next to a roaring fire at the end of the day can help you get through the dark days of winter. Your relaxing ritual could turn into a serious health or safety risk if you haven’t had your fireplace or stove’s chimney cleaned and inspected before lighting a fire in the hearth.
Fireplaces and stoves are two of the leading sources of house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S. Too often, these accidents could have been prevented if the homeowners had invested in a chimney cleaning and inspection.
Here are 6 ways that having your chimney cleaned and inspected before winter can protect your safety and save you money:
1. Remove Obstructions & Pests
Much like gutters, chimneys can get clogged up with lawn debris (like sticks and leaves), and animal nests. Birds, bats, squirrels and other critters like to make their homes in chimneys during the spring and summer. If you light a fire in your fireplace or stove when the flue is blocked by an animal, nest or debris, you could spark a fire. You could also become exposed to carbon monoxide. When smoke isn’t able to completely escape through the chimney, it will come back into your home increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Building a big fire to smoke out animals or burn away obstructions is an incredibly dangerous alternative. Many homeowners who try this method accidentally start a house fire instead. Hiring a professional chimney sweep that has experience removing animals, nests and lawn debris is the safest way to prepare your chimney for a new burning season.
2. Prevent a Fire
Have you ever noticed a dark, tar-like or glassy substance on the walls of the chimney? That is creosote. It’s a highly flammable, chemical compound that forms in chimneys when you burn wood. Unseasoned wood and softwoods produce the most creosote.
It is the leading cause of chimney fires and house fires. High temperatures or a stray spark can easily ignite it. Large buildups of creosote can burn for long periods of time at extremely hot temperatures. Even when the fire stays in the flue, it can cause serious structural damage to your chimney and the surrounding area.
This dangerous chemical compound is tough to remove on your own without professional grade cleaners and equipment. Hiring a CSIA-certified professional to clean your chimney is the surest way to remove all of the creosote in the chimney.
3. Discover Hidden Damage or Structural Problems
Every component in a chimney—the mortar, bricks, damper system, flue and crown—needs to be in good condition to protect your home from water damage, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Unfortunately, chimney systems are prone to get damaged and deteriorate because they are exposed to harsh weather, extremely high temperatures and corrosive chemical compounds. Many chimney problems go unnoticed until the problem becomes severe (and expensive!) if the chimney is not professionally inspected on a regular basis. Without the right equipment and a trained eye, it’s hard to assess what is going on inside a chimney.
Cracked chimney crowns, damaged flue liners and warped dampers are common problems that are often discovered through a chimney inspection. Catching problems like these early is the best way to save yourself from expensive repairs in the future.
4. Meet Insurance Requirements
Do you know if your insurance policy requires an annual chimney inspection and cleaning? This is a common requirement for homeowner’s insurance. Many people don’t realize it until it is too late! Most insurance companies will not cover damage caused by a fireplace or woodstove if you do not have proof that the chimney has been cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
It is a good idea to take a look at your homeowner’s insurance to see if this is a requirement. If it is, make sure that you get proper documentation after you have the chimney serviced and hold onto it.
5. Increase the Lifespan of the Flue Liner
The flue liner is the chimney system’s first defense against a house fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. It insulates the rest of the chimney from the high temperatures of the fire and corrosive chemicals in smoke. It also prevents sparks and carbon monoxide from slipping into your home through cracks in the bricks and mortar.
Large buildups of creosote and soot deteriorate flue liners because they trap in moisture that corrodes the liner. Having the flue cleaned at least once a year helps it to stay in better condition so that it lasts longer.
6. Improve Efficiency
The efficiency of your fireplace or stove is important whether you are concerned about the environment or you’re focused on reducing your heating costs. When a fire burns fuel efficiently it produces more heat and less smoke. This means you’ll be able to keep your home at a comfortable temperature without overloading the firebox and the fire won’t produce as many harmful emissions.
Scheduling a chimney cleaning before the burning season is a simple way to improve your fireplace or stove’s efficiency. The cleaning process removes any obstructions that might limit or cutting off the supply of oxygen that the fire needs to burn well. Fixing small problems discovered through an inspection, like a warped damper, can also improve fireplace efficiency by ensuring the chimney system is fully functioning.
Make scheduling a chimney inspection and cleaning an annual habit like spring cleaning! If you are looking for a CSIA-certified chimney sweep in Central Connecticut that you can trust, give us a call (860) 233-5770!