A hearth fire, or a fire in a wood stove, is a universal sign of comfort to all. Even people who do not have fireplaces delight in "faux" fires. You can even watch hearth fires on YouTube.com. Fires conjure up images of warmth, security, coziness, and calm. Fire is an essential element, and humans are drawn to it.
For those of you who have real, working stoves or fireplaces, you hopefully know that chimneys need to be cleaned regularly. But how often?
Our recommendation is twice per year.
If you use your fireplace or stove during the fall and winter months (sometimes into the spring), you may experience the buildup of cresote. Cresote is a substance that builds up on the insides of chimneys and stovepipes. What happens if you have too much cresote? It can ignite, and cause a chimney fire.
Another reason is to have a chimney cleaned is to check for cracks or holes. Even a small crack or hole can be enough for fire to seep through into your attic, causing a fire.
There is another reason, and while they are mostly harmless, they are creepy: Bats. To a bat, a chimney or stovepipe just seems like a safe haven when the chimney or pipe is not in use.
It's a hollow, cozy spot to hang out. Bats can squeeze through incredibly tiny spaces, which is why, when you are through with fires for the year, you should have a chimney sweep inspect your chimney or stove pipe to make sure it's clear, clean it, and make sure that it is screened so that bats cannot get in it.
In most areas, bats are a protected species -- so if they get in, getting them out is very difficult, not to mention expensive.
Birds are another issue with chimneys or stove pipes. They of course build nests, and on top of a chimney seems sometimes like a dandy place.
Unsuspecting homeowners sometimes kill them inadvertently, not realizing that a nest has been built. A chimney sweep service can make sure everything is "good to go" for a fire before something upsetting like this occurs.
Should You Hire a Professional?
Chimney cleaning is very strenuous, and often dangerous, work. Some roof lines are extremely daunting due to steepness and accessibility. Ladders are dangerous, accounting for over 164,000 deaths per year. Moreover, you need quite a few tools, such as a ladder, buckets and rags, a chimney brush, possibly a professional vaccum, a good mirror, and a flashlight.
That is a lot to lug around, but if your chimney is not in a hard-to-clean place, you can certainly give it a try. Be sure to cover the fireplace area, lest you get soot onto floors, furniture, etc., and then have a bigger mess to clean.
When Should You Clean?
Follow the seasons. Clean your chimney or stove pipe after you are done using it -- perhaps in March or early April, and then again when it gets chilly again, in October or early November.
Enjoy a fire, but be safe!
With the weather outside getting warmer, it is important to have some basic education on your home's HVAC system to prevent the elevated temperatures from making their way into your house.
Like all good investments, a heating and cooling unit needs to be maintained and occasionally serviced to make sure the money you spent on it is not wasted. Part of this maintenance includes cleaning of the duct system.
But how do you know when it is time to have the air ducts cleaned, what are the signs to watch out for? And who do you call to perform this cleaning?
Sign 1: Your electric bill is higher than normal.
Keeping a close eye on your monthly energy bill is a good idea for staying within your budget, but it is also important in case of clogged air ducts.
When air is being forced through dirty air ducts, your cooling system must work much harder to maintain the temperature that you set on the thermostat, thus increasing the time the unit is on and the amount of money you will spend keeping your home's temperature at a comfortable setting.
Sign 2: Pests have moved into the ducts.
Not only is creepy to think about insects and rodents making a home with you, but their invasion can also cause health problems.
The best way to tell if they have found their way into your home's HVAC ducts is to look and listen for some tell-tale signs. Strange noises, smells or droppings are all easy to notice and are indicators that your air ducts need to be cleaned-immediately.
Sign 3: You have recently remodeled or built your home.
Whether you built and remodeled your home using an outside contractor, or you did the work yourself, construction is messy!
Even with covering vents and diligently cleaning up as you go, fine particles of dust and debris can easily make their way into your air ducts. Make it a habit to have your air ducts cleaned anytime you complete a construction project.
Sign 4: You can see evidence of dust.
Noticeable dust in the air when your HVAC system kicks on, or visible dust on your air vents is not something you should be embarrassed about, nor is it something that should be ignored.
Even homes with fulltime house cleaners accumulate dust, dirt and pet dander. Noticing this on your vents or your air filters means that it is time to have your air ducts cleaned. It will save you money, and it will keep your family breathing in healthy, dust-free air.
Sign 5: A musty smell.
Mold is very hazardous to the air quality in your home and can cause some serious health problems.
It can be hard to see (especially if it is forming further down the duct system), but it has a very distinct scent. At the first hint of a "musty" smell in your home, you need to act quickly to have your air ducts cleaned so the mold doesn't spread.
So, who do you call to clean your home's HVAC ducts? You call Portland's number one trusted duct cleaning company.
Duct Cleaning Portland Pro is a fully licensed and insured company with experience, professionalism and reasonable prices. Call them today for more information on how to keep the air in your home cool, and healthy this summer.