Chimney cleaning is an essential part of caring not only for your fireplace but for your home. There are two very important reasons to get your chimney cleaned regularly.
One is because of the toxic gasses that can enter your home when there is a blockage or buildup within the chimney. These gases are not safe for humans or any pets to inhale and can cause health concerns.
The other significant reason to have your chimney cleaned regularly is overall safety. Having a clean chimney lowers the risk of home fires starting. These chimney fires are known to cause structural damage to your home and worse, injure and kill people if the fire is not detected early enough.
Unfortunately for the average homeowner, the warning signs, like loud popping sounds, are overlooked, thus an uncontrollable fire is the outcome.
The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 suggests having your chimney serviced yearly. This organization advises this in hopes to help lower injuries, deaths, and uncontrollable fires for the general public. The yearly cleaning can be your guideline but there are also some signals to watch for that tell your fireplace and chimney are due for a cleaning.
The following are signs that a cleaning is needed: if you typically have no problems starting a fire but it is now taking you awhile to get one going, if the fireplace starts to smell like a campfire or smoke starts to fill the room even with the damper, the seal to the fireplace, is open, if the damper appears black, or if the walls of the fireplace have oily residue on them, then it is time for a cleaning.
Another obvious sign it is time to call a chimney sweep is if you suspect animals living within the chimney.
Birds, squirrels, bats, and raccoons are common chimney residents due to the warmth and safety they can offer. Signs of an animal in your chimney are droppings found in the fireplace as well as any chirping/squeaking noises.
You might even spy a nest in your chimney.
While you can remove general ash using a heavy metal bristled brush yourself if there is any oil or buildup, you should call a chimney cleaning professional. A professional will remove all soot, blockages, built up creosote (tar like oil that is a byproduct of burning wood), clean out the firebox, smoke chamber, and the damper.
The chimney sweep will begin the cleaning starting at the flue, the vertical duct or pipe that allows gasses to get to the outside, and then work upwards or vice versa, from the roof to the smoke chamber. It usually cost a few hundred dollars and takes about an hour to complete. The suggested time of year to get your chimney serviced is in the spring.
Enjoy safe, warm, and comforting fires all year long by remembering to take care of your chimney.
For the comfort of knowing your fireplace and chimney are in working order it is well worth the time and money to make sure they are cleaned properly and regularly.