Winter is coming, which means it’s time to clean your chimney. However, before using your fireplace it is important to make sure you can enjoy the rustic ambiance in a safe environment.
Although it may seem unimportant, routinely cleaning your chimney is a necessity (see our key indicator questions below that will help you calculate when your chimney will need its next cleaning). Here are a few reasons why.
Prevent a Chimney Fire and Water Damage
The job of the chimney sweep is to remove soot, blockages, and built up creosote from your chimney liners, smoke chamber, firebox and damper. It only takes a small amount of creosote, a tar like substance that builds up from burning wood or gas, to potentially ignite a fire.
A chimney fire is definitely something you want to avoid. Chimney fires may not make the same crackling and popping sounds a normal fire produces. Some chimney fires burn loud and fast, while others are invisible until it’s too late, but all chimney fires reach extremely high temperatures – 2500 degrees! – that can often spread to the rest of your house.
Regular chimney sweepings can also prevent other problems. By running a camera through a clean chimney you can find problems that will increase your chance of a chimney fire or other hazards before they happen.
Protect Your Health
Carbon monoxide is something you want to avoid. While many of us have carbon monoxide detectors it’s still essential to have your chimney inspected regularly. In small installments, carbon monoxide causes nausea and dizziness but if left untreated the results could be fatal.
Many chimneys have internal issues that left untreated can cause carbon monoxide problems on with little or no warning. Rather than waiting until you have an emergency, chimney inspections can help you keep up to snuff and avoid calling the fire department out for a carbon monoxide alarm.
Avoid Smoke Damage
When a chimney is not regularly cleaned smoke can accumulate around the flue. This makes it difficult for the smoke to ventilate out of the chimney and cause it to enter the room. What happens more often is the chimney itself is the problem, which can be fixed by a professional so you don’t have to live with smoky, sooty odor.
But don’t stress out! To keep your family and home safe, ask yourself these 3 key questions to calculate when your chimney will need it’s next cleaning:
How long has it been since you had your chimney inspected?
Having your chimney cleaned also depends on how often you use it. However if it’s been anywhere from 1-3 years since your last inspection, we suggest getting your chimney checked. Proper maintenance of your chimney should be done every other year if not yearly. The purpose of these routine inspections is to ensure your chimney is functioning properly and is ready for another year of cozy evenings gathering around the fireplace.
It’s very inexpensive and sometimes even free to get your chimney inspected. We would be more than happy to assist you, just give us a call at (703) 705-7550.
When did you last have your chimney cleaned?
Homeowners will roughly use their chimneys on either a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis (couple times per year). If you are among those who regularly use their chimney during the cold months then you will need to get annual inspections. These inspections can also help determine how often your chimney should be cleaned. Occasional users may last from 2-3 years before requiring a cleaning.
When was the last time you checked your furnace flue?
Your furnace flue is completely different from your fireplace chimney, but you should get it checked on a regular basis as well. Regardless of the fuel you use, it is highly suggested to have your furnace flue checked annually. Neglecting your furnace flue results in buildup of debris, blockages, and other venting problems which can lead to soot blowback and carbon monoxide in the home. Besides these annual flue checkups (no pun intended) you should also schedule a flue inspection before moving into a new home and prior to installing a new furnace or water heater.
We hope these questions have empowered you with the knowledge on how to keep your family and home safe from the hazards of neglected chimneys and furnace flues.
Check back in with us for more valuable articles about the health of your home’s chimney, it’s anatomy and how it works, and helpful tips on how to maintain it and save money.
Feel free to reach out to us here for any questions or simply drop us a call at (703) 705-7550.