Why Is Regular Chimney Cleaning Necessary?
It can be dangerous to assume that a chimney is in good working condition, even if it is rarely used. There are common chimney issues that arise which require regular maintenance and cleaning, not only for safety reasons but also to prevent high repair costs. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) are both organizations devoted to chimney safety, and they both recommend annual chimney inspections. Cleaning is not always needed, according to some experts, but when it is, neglecting professional chimney cleaning could result in a hazardous chimney fire.
When is Chimney Cleaning Needed?
The CSIA specifies that it’s time to have your chimney liner cleaned when there is one-eighth of an inch of creosote or soot buildup inside of it. The NFPA’s philosophy is that an annual cleaning is best, under any circumstances.
What does Chimney Cleaning Involve?
- When you have your chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep, creosote, soot, and blockage is removed from fireboxes, chimney liners, dampers, and smoke chambers. The safe and proper operation of your chimney depends upon it being free of obstruction. You can better avoid fire hazards with costly repairs when your chimney is properly maintained. More about creosote follows:
1) Each time you burn wood in your fireplace, creosote is deposited in your flue lining. The types of wood you burn and the types of fires that you have in the fireplace determine whether there is more or less creosote. If, for instance, you burn wood that has not been properly seasoned, it has too much moisture to produce an efficient fire. Unseasoned firewood contains so much moisture that the fire’s energy is wasted on drying out the wood, and the wet fire increases the amount of creosote deposited in the flue lining. If you burn fires that tend to smolder for long periods of time, that situation also increases the buildup of creosote.
2) The problem with the creosote is, first, that it is highly flammable. A spark from the fire can easily catch creosote in the flue on fire, creating an intense chimney fire that can lead to a house fire or to significant damage to the flue lining and chimney structure.
3) Creosote can also cause blockage in the chimney. It is important for the chimney flue to be free and clear, so that there can be a proper draft for fires. When blockage occurs for any reason, one of the dangerous results is that toxic fumes which would usually exit through the chimney instead leak back into the home. One type of fume that can enter the home because of blockage is carbon monoxide, which is often referred to as the “Silent Killer” because it is odorless and invisible. People exposed to deadly levels of carbon monoxide often don’t realize it until it’s too late for them to escape the fumes.
- During an inspection, chimney technicians also use their experience and expertise to look for signs of damage. Moisture is considered a chimney’s biggest enemy because of the many ways in which it can cause damage.
- There can also be other obstructions in the chimney, besides creosote. Deterioration in the chimney system can create debris that blocks the flue, for instance.
- Even tiny cracks in a chimney flue lining can cause an intense and dangerous house fire. Chimney experts have the equipment to detect damage to the flue lining. Repairing or replacing a damaged liner is essential to ensure safe operation of a fireplace and chimney.
The experts agree that annual chimney maintenance should be considered an important priority for homeowners with fireplaces. Schedule your chimney inspection and cleaning with our chimney professionals today.