Don’t Be Fooled by the Mild Winter – Annual Chimney Cleaning and Inspection is Still a Must!
Is a chimney inspection and cleaning needed after mild winters? Many homeowners assume a year of maintenance can safely be skipped, if their fireplace or wood stove got minimal use during the cold season. That is an incorrect assumption, however. According to experts, not only does a chimney get dirty in mild winters, but other things can happen that require chimney repair and maintenance. A dirty chimney increases the threat of a dangerous chimney fire, and other issues can cause damage requiring costly repair. The sooner a problem with your chimney is identified, the more you can potentially save on repair costs.
Creosote buildup during mild winters
Creosote is what coats the chimney lining and can easily build up to the extent that it causes a chimney fire. Creosote is tar-like and highly flammable. While it’s true that more fires mean more creosote, it’s also true that some types of fire create more creosote than others. On cold winter days, hot fires are typically burned, and they create more complete combustion. During mild winters, fires are built to be less intense and are left to smolder, which can mean that more combustion byproducts end up being deposited in the chimney liner than the creosote buildup created by several hot-burning fires.
It’s best to have your chimney cleaned every spring. If creosote deposits are left through the summer, the creosote dries out and changes to a different form that makes chimney fires both more likely and more dangerous.
The danger of chimney fires
Each year in the U.S., there are thousands of chimney fires, and many lead to hazardous and sometimes deadly house fires. Whether started by a spark or ember igniting creosote, the most common cause, or because of a chimney obstruction, chimney fires get intensely hot. Sometimes reaching temperatures of more than 2000 degrees, they can damage the chimney lining, which is one reason the fires can spread into combustible parts of the home. When the fire shoots out of the top of the chimney, it sometimes catches the roof on fire.
Having your chimney inspected after a mild winter helps to prevent a chimney fire when your wood stove or fireplace is back in use next time icy temperatures roll in.
After a mild winter or a cold one, get a chimney inspection in springtime
Chimneys are not the maintenance-free structures many homeowners mistakenly think they are. Stormy weather and other conditions can damage a chimney’s exterior. Moisture is a chimney’s biggest enemy, and there are many different ways in which moisture can compromise your chimney system. A professional chimney technician knows what to look for, as far as causes of moisture damage to your home. The chimney flashing, chimney crown, masonry, chimney cap, and mortar can all provide evidence that repair is needed to stop damage being caused by moisture.
Obstructions in the chimney also create potential danger, including the possibility of a chimney fire.
When a chimney isn’t cleaned after mild winters, the smell of sooty substances in the chimney can be very noticeable in the heat and humidity of summer.
Chimney sweeps, down through history, have suffered seriously ill effects from overexposure to the substances inside chimneys. When you have your chimney cleaned regularly, you prevent your family from breathing in those toxins.
Whether the winter behind us was mild or frigid, contact our chimney professionals for a chimney inspection and cleaning.