Why Regular Chimney Sweeps are so Important
Many homeowners often wonder how often they should clean their chimney. The National Fireplace Protection Association and fire safety professionals recommend annual chimney sweeps. Regularly cleaning the chimney is often your first line of defense for minimizing fire and health hazards. Hiring a professional chimney sweep is convenient and affordable, and it can also help reduce expensive chimney repairs. Here are a few more reasons why regular chimney sweeps are critical:
Prevent A Chimney Fire
Fire prevention is the main reason why regular chimney sweeps are so vital. According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there is a residential structure fire every 85 seconds. The primary cause is excessive creosote in the chimney. Not surprisingly, most residential fires occur in the winter. Creosote is a naturally occurring by-product of combustion that clings to the liner, walls, and other components in the flue. Without regular chimney cleanings to sweep the creosote, it will continue to accumulate. It eventually hardens into a charcoal-like substance that is highly flammable and extremely difficult to remove.
The combination of high temperatures from the fireplace and hot embers in the flue can spark a fire in the chimney. Many homeowners are unaware they had a chimney fire until a chimney sweep discovers signs of a fire during a chimney inspection or cleaning.
Clear Flue Obstructions
Windy weather can blow leaves and twigs from nearby trees into the flue. Small animals like birds, raccoons, and squirrels will also take up residence to build their nests and hide from predators. These critters, along with smoke, creosote, and other debris can obstruct the flue. A flue obstruction can be especially hazardous. Instead of expelling toxic fumes out of the stack, it will back-up into your living space and increase the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide (CO). CO is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that can cause flu-like symptoms, including headache, nausea, and dizziness. Annually, more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room, and over 400 deaths are due to carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s another critical reason to hire a professional chimney sweep. In addition to annual chimney cleaning, safety experts encourage homeowners with a fireplace or heating stove to install CO detectors in their homes.
Minimize Chimney Damage
Some of the contaminants created during combustion are acidic. The longer these residues linger in the flue, the more damage they can cause to the chimney. It can also damage the flue liner and metal components like the damper and smoke shelf. Also, the chimney is built to withstand high temperatures of a burning fireplace. However, temperatures can quickly rise above 2,000°F during a chimney fire. This excessive heat can severely damage the flue liner and weaken the masonry. The intense heat can also ignite combustible building materials and spread throughout the house. Regular chimney sweeps are essential in minimizing chimney damage and costly repairs.
Eliminate Foul Odors
The accumulation of soot, dirt, and debris in the chimney can also cause foul odors to permeate from the fireplace. After enjoying the warmth of your fireplace during the winter, foul odors may peak in spring without an annual chimney cleaning. The unpleasant odors which are often the result of decaying organic matter can also attract pests such as mice and rats. It can also provide the conditions for mold and bacteria growth, which can cause health problems in some individuals.