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Is Chimney Cleaning Always Necessary?

If you want to know if chimney cleaning is always necessary, the answer depends upon who you ask. It also depends on the type of fuel used in your heating appliance. Chimneys for wood-burning fireplaces and wood stoves require cleaning the most frequently. Leading fire safety experts who agree on the necessity of annual chimney inspections have slightly different outlooks regarding chimney cleaning. Yearly fire statistics also provide an outlook on the importance of scheduling regular chimney cleaning services from a professional chimney sweep. Details follow.

Why Wood Fires Make Chimneys Dirty

The combustion gases created by firewood leave flammable deposits of a substance called creosote in the chimney flue. Every wood fire contributes to the buildup of creosote. There are three things it helps to know about creosote. First, because it is highly combustible, the presence of creosote in your chimney liner means that you have an increased risk of a hazardous chimney fire. Second, creosote can obstruct the chimney. Third, creosote comes in three forms.

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Chimney Obstruction

When creosote isn’t regularly removed with chimney cleaning services, it builds up inside the chimney liner. At some point, there is so much creosote in the chimney, the chimney draft is obstructed, causing toxic fumes, including deadly carbon monoxide, to back up into the home.

Chimney Fires

A floating hot ember is all that is required to start a chimney fire. What usually happens is that chimney fires continue burning as long as there is more creosote to fuel them. It is important to schedule a chimney inspection anytime you have experienced a chimney fire because these dangerous fires can destroy the chimney liner and other chimney components.

Three Kinds of Creosote

If you are fortunate, cleaning your chimney will require nothing more than a professional chimney brush. That is what is needed if you have Stage 1 creosote.

Stage 2 creosote is more tar-like and looks like black corn flakes. Removal is more difficult, requiring equipment used by professional chimney sweeps.

Stage 3 creosote is the most difficult to remove. Actually, it is sometimes impossible to remove. It looks like tar has been poured into the chimney. Certain equipment and chemicals need to be used. When they don’t work, what most chimney professionals recommend is having a stainless-steel chimney liner installed inside the chimney as is and then insulation is installed between the new liner and the outer wall of the chimney, so that safe use of the chimney can be restored.

NFPA’s Chimney Cleaning Recommendation

So, getting to the question is chimney cleaning always necessary, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says yes. The experts at NFPA advise scheduling an annual chimney cleaning along with yearly inspections to ensure home safety.

CSIA’s Chimney Cleaning Advice

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that homeowners schedule chimney cleaning once there is 1/8 inch of creosote buildup inside the chimney liner.

Dirty Chimneys and Annual Home Fire Statistics

Each year, thousands of home fires related to heating appliances occur in homes in the U.S. The majority of those fires are caused by dirty chimneys. Most are clogged with creosote, but sometimes other types of debris cause chimney fires that escalate into home fires.

When you schedule a chimney inspection each year, your trusted chimney sweep will let you know its condition. Chimney repairs and/or chimney cleaning may or may not be needed. Whatever is required, there should be ample time to get your chimney in good shape before winter comes if you’ve scheduled the inspection in the spring or in the summertime.

Contact Northeastern Chimney Today

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If you live in or around West Hartford CT, you can call on the trusted chimney professionals at Northeastern Chimney. Our chimney sweeps are all CSIA-certified and have the training and experience to deliver the services you need. Enjoying peace of mind while using your fireplace or wood stove is a lot easier when Northeastern Chimney is your chimney sweep company. We will let you know if you need chimney cleaning, and we provide chimney liner installation, chimney inspections, masonry rebuilds, and all other repairs, maintenance, and heating appliance installation services you may need. Call us today for more information at 860-233-5770.


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