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Why Your Chimney Needs Cleaning & Inspection

Why Your Chimney Needs Cleaning & Inspection

It is recommended that you clean and inspect your chimney and fireplace at least once a year, but have you ever wondered why?

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents be cleaned and inspected at least once a year to ensure safe operation.

As you burn wood in your fireplace, a byproduct of the combustion is a sticky residue called creosote. Creosote can build up on the interior of your flue and chimney. It has a tar-like consistency and is combustible. If enough creosote builds up in the flue, you could experience a chimney fire.

Chimney fires are more common than you might think, and the majority of chimney fires go undetected. Slow-burning chimney fires may not be visible but can cause significant damage to your chimney structure. We see homeowners that have experienced chimney fires and didn’t even know it all the time.

Larger chimney fires might be noticed by a load “freight train” sound, dense dark gray smoke, or a strong smell outside of wood and burning tar.

If your chimney flue has cracks or holes, creosote will fill in these gaps and a chimney fire can expand to the larger chimney cavity. This typically results in a larger, more explosive chimney fire. During your annual inspection, these cracks and holes would be detected and fixed. If you believe that a chimney fire occurred, do not wait until your next annual inspection. You should have your chimney inspected and repaired if necessary.

While there are tips on how to properly burn wood to minimize the build-up of creosote in your chimney and flue, different cords of wood will have different moisture content and produce different amounts of creosote. It is not uncommon for us to see customers that burn the same amount of wood season after season and have dramatically different levels of creosote at each cleaning and inspection.

But what if you only use your Chimney a couple of times a year? Should you still get a cleaning and inspection? This is a common question we are asked. Even if you do not use your fireplace often, an annual inspection can check for blockages, commonly resulting from animal nests or deterioration that may occur with or without use.

If you are due for your annual chimney cleaning and inspection, now is the best time of year to schedule an appointment before the busy season begins in the fall.

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