When it comes to the areas in your home that you know need attention, your chimney probably doesn't top the list. In fact, given that its job is to escort smoke and soot from the home and that it's made of stone or brick, you may think you're in the clear to ignore and focus on more pressing items like the floors, HVAC system, or yard. However, this can be a costly mistake. chimney cleaning is an important chore you need to carry out for a number of reasons. If you're new to the idea or it's been a while, here's what you need to know.
Why Your Chimney Needs Attention
Despite its rustic exterior and simple job, your chimney actually does need some attention from time to time. That's because your chimney can easily become clogged after all the soot it's exposed to builds up and/or causes blockages. Another threat is called creosote. It's a chemical that gets released when certain materials are burned. When the whole log, coal or fire-starter you're using doesn't burn all the way through, creosote is the byproduct that gets left behind. Over time, it builds up:
on the inside of your chimney
in the smoke chamber
in your firebox
on the damper.
The problem with soot is that when it clogs the chimney, smoke has a hard time escaping. This can become inconvenient, at best, when you try to light that next fire. Obviously, it could be quite dangerous too. However, as creosote is flammable, if it builds up too much, you could be in all kinds of danger the next time you go to enjoy your fireplace. Unfortunately, it doesn't take much creosote to start a chimney fire (FYI, pine contains more creosote than other kinds of wood and should be avoided for this reason).
Getting Your Chimney Inspected
We'll talk more about chimney cleaning in a moment, but it's also important that you get yours inspected regularly. Unless you enjoy an abnormal amount of fires each year, annual inspections will do. Even if you hardly use your fireplace, a chimney inspection is a good idea as the serviceman can take a look at all your heating systems to ensure problems aren't lurking.
Plus, your chimney can become a home to all kinds of wildlife, even if you think it's sealed. The next time you try starting a fire or even just open your damper, this can be a serious issue. Having a professional take a look at your chimney, especially right after winter, is a good idea for this reason.
When to Schedule a Chimney Inspection
Any time you're having issues with your chimney, an inspection is necessary. A chimney cleaning may be recommended, but sometimes the solution will be something even simpler.
If you just purchased your home, an inspection is a good idea. Even if the last homeowner claims they had one recently, it's not worth the risk.
As we mentioned, winter weather may drive pests into your chimney. However, the elements may have damaged the structure too. So it's a good idea to call for an inspection when the thaw comes even if you don't have vermin problems in your neighborhood.
When Chimney Cleaning Is Necessary
Again, a lot of times an inspection will come with a chimney cleaning. This may not always be the case though and the inspection may not always be necessary although cleaning is. The CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) recommends you always get a chimney cleaning done when an eighth an inch of soot is noticeable within the chimney and flue. If you look up at your flue and notice a glaze has built up, it doesn't matter how thick it is, you need your chimney cleaned before using it again.
Getting your chimney cleaned at least once a year is recommended. chimney cleaning. Right before winter starts is usually best because that's when the burning starts.
Keep in mind, too, that whether you're talking about a chimney cleaning or inspection, your fireplace isn't the only consideration. Many HVAC systems expel excess air through your chimney. So just because your chimney is collecting dust doesn't mean there isn't a world of problems sitting right above it. Even if you have no plans of enjoying a fire in the near future, getting your chimney cleaned is still a good idea.
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