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Signs Your Chimney or Fireplace Needs Servicing

creosote buildup, esopus nyWhen was the last time your chimney or fireplace was serviced? The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends homeowners have annual chimney inspections and cleaning when necessary to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the chimney and fireplace.  However, many homeowners often wonder when they should clean the chimney. If you notice one or more of the following signs, your chimney or fireplace needs servicing.

Creosote Build-up

When lighting a fire in the fireplace, the process produces various substances, including creosote that sticks to the interior walls and components while smoke and exhaust are venting up the chimney.  The powdery substance gradually hardens into a dark, tarry, and crusty material that is difficult to remove. It is also very flammable and is the primary cause of house fires. If you notice oily, greasy, or a tar-like substance on the damper, on the walls inside the fireplace, or anywhere else in the chimney, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a Certified Chimney Sweep®.

Fires are Smokey

Smokey fires are another sign that your chimney or fireplace needs servicing. Smoke and fumes are supposed to go up the flue and exit the chimney, but an obstruction can cause it to back up into your fireplace and living space instead. It also increases the risk of exposure to dangerous carbon monoxide gas. Birds or other small animals nesting in the chimney, leaves, twigs, and debris can clog the flue restricting the venting of smoke and dangerous gases. An excessive accumulation of creosote can also cause a flue obstruction.

Difficult to Light or Maintain a Fire

When the chimney is dirty, using a fireplace can cause drafting problems that interrupt the oxygen supply necessary to build or maintain a fire. Soot and creosote buildup in the chimney that interferes with the venting will make it difficult to light or maintain a fire in the fireplace.

birds in chimney, hyde park nyYou Hear Animals in the Chimney

Small animals, including bats, birds, and squirrels, often gain entry due to a broken or damaged chimney cap. You may hear scratching, clawing, and screeching as they build nests or try to escape. Since they can cause a flue obstruction, anytime you hear or suspect animals in the chimney, it is time for a service call. A chimney professional will safely and humanely remove any animals or pests and install a new chimney cap to protect the chimney.

The Fireplace is Smelly

If you’re not servicing the chimney or fireplace every year, the accumulating dust, dirt, and rotting organic matter can eventually cause the fireplace to have a foul odor. You may also smell it in your home. A dirty chimney also attracts insects and pests. A damaged chimney cap, masonry cracks, or other damage can allow moisture to seep inside the chimney resulting in mold and mildew producing a strong offensive odor.

 

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