Five Chimney Chores You Shouldn’t Ignore
Spring cleaning your home?
Don’t forget to give your chimney a good sweep too.
It’s easy to overlook cleaning your chimney or put it off for later since cleaning your chimney might seem like an overwhelming task. It could be months, sometimes even years, for you to actually get to cleaning out your chimney.
However, this is far from recommended since your chimney will keep functioning and keep pushing smoke up and out of your flue, scattering away the ash, soot, and creosote, which is actually quite dangerous for you and your family.
Ideally, if your home has a chimney, you should never forget the following chimney chores.
#1 Regularly check for obstructions
It doesn’t matter whether or not your chimney has a cap on it (which it should always have a cap…).
When you look up the flue, you should be able to see the sky peeking out of from the wire mesh. In case you find that you are not able to look at the sky, chances are, your flue is obstructed.
In that case, you need to call a chimney sweep.
Oftentimes, small animals, bird’s nests and other debris take shelter in an uncapped chimney.
An obstructed chimney though can present to be quite the health hazard for you and your family as it prevents dangerous toxic fumes like carbon monoxide and other emissions from escaping the chimney in a burning fireplace.
Carbon monoxide(CO) poisoning can severely affect your health. Thousands of people are treated for CO poisoning every year
#2 Empty the firebox
Many people keep a little ash in the firebox to be able to induce heat and make the process of starting a fire easier.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends leaving only an inch at the end of the firebox when your fireplace, fireplace insert, or wood-burning stove is regularly being used.
However, don’t let soot and ashes collect in the firebox over time, it can predispose it to corrosion and rust.
It could also result in the premature failure of the grate from an excess of heat.
If you want to experience a well-lit fire, regularly clean any accumulated ash and soot from your firebox.
Make it a routine to give your firebox a thorough cleaning at the end of every fireplace season. If you are prone to experiencing allergy symptoms easily, cleaning your fireplace’s firebox of any dust, soot and ash can help you manage your allergy symptoms.
Read More: 25 Things to Do With Your Chimney Ashes
#3 Examine your firebox for dampness, chips of masonry, and watermarks
If the firebox of your fireplace contains any watermarks or dampness, it could mean that your chimney cap is cracked and it’s letting water in.
Mortar chips and bricks could indicate the need for replacing the flue liner of your firebox.
Chimney maintenance performs an exercise called “tuckpointing” to remove damaged mortar and replace it with new mortar to provide strength and stability to the chimney system.
Sometimes the entire brickwork of your chimney might become damaged and warrant repairs. If you have the budget for it, you could obviously purchase a brand new chimney for yourself but this would be more expensive.
If your chimney’s firebox exhibits these issues, try to have them repaired as early as possible. The more you allow these issues to develop, the more expensive the repairs will turn out.
Also, making these repairs during the Spring and Summer seasons will enable you to use the fireplace when Fall and Winter season comes around.
#4 Keep a Check on Creosote Accumulation Inside the Chimney
Make it a practice to glance inside your chimney and inspect its walls visually at least once every month while your wood stove or fireplace is in use during the winter.
You are likely to notice creosote and soot mixture along the walls.
Soot is recognizable as a black powder. Whereas creosote is a brown/black tarry and sticky substance that is incredibly flammable and the leading cause of chimney fires.
Both are byproducts of burning wood that build up along the chimney’s flue walls.
You can clear away any soot and creosote deposits from your chimney’s insides by utilizing a chimney brush.
It is possible that you might forget cleaning creosote from within your chimney when you clean it otherwise.
However, if you forget this crucial chimney chore and the creosote deposited inside your chimney gets too thick, you could face a chimney fire.
After all, the burning embers along with the high heat conditions in your chimney are all it takes to fuel one.
Creosote is highly combustible and fire sparked off by creosote can be quite destructive as it can really climb up in temperature.
The best way to make sure your chimney is free from any creosote deposits is to pay for having it cleaned professionally by a chimney cleaning service or chimney sweep.
Creosote is unhealthy to breathe in. It also necessitates the usage of harsh chemical cleaning agents for having it cleaned
#5 Scheduling for your chimney to be annually inspected by a professional
You can try to do a lot of things on your own, but cleaning your chimney should not be one of them.
Always get a professional with experience in chimney cleaning to provide a thorough inspection and cleaning of your chimney.
DIY chimney cleaning is not advised. It is not only dirty but also could prove dangerous if the person engaging in the activity does not have adequate equipment or knowledge.
When you are able to properly maintain your chimney and fireplace, your chimney is able to provide you and your household with years of comfort and service.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep, at least a minimum of one time in a year. All the more so, during the winter fireplace season.
Unlike you, a certified chimney sweep technician knows just what to look for and verify, to learn whether all your chimney’s components are functioning as desired or not. They also already possess the tools and equipment necessary for cleaning your chimney effectively.
The different parts of your chimney have different roles to play.
A chimney cap plays an integral role in protecting and maintaining the structural integrity of your chimney.
You could end up with costly repair charges if you somehow missed out on detecting a cracked chimney cap.
It could leak water into the masonry of your home and damage it.
The flue liner of a chimney helps prevent fires from spreading to the house as it insulates combustible material within your home such as ceilings, walls, and insulation from the extremely warm temperature in the flue.
An untrained eye would not be able to tell damage suffered by a flue liner that could turn it into a fire hazard.
Well, Now You Know
Now that you know which chimney chores need to be essentially performed periodically, you should not find any reason to not do them.
Finding excuses to put off cleaning your chimney will only harm your chimney’s health and overall use life.
Cleaning and maintaining your chimney is a sure way of keeping it in optimal functioning order for years to come.
You will not only be maintaining its use life, you will also be keeping yourself, your family and your house safe from accidental fire outbreaks. You should always be careful when dealing with fire as it holds a lot of potential for being dangerous and causing harm to others.
Even if you plan to do the cleaning and maintenance tasks by yourself at home, chimney cleaning and maintenance is a task best left to professionals.
You likely will not have the required tools and components that your chimney cleaning tasks will demand, but you can always count on a professional chimney technician to have them handy.
Professional chimney cleaners will also have the knowledge required to effectively be able to clean out your chimney and all its individual components. When certain materials such as creosote accumulates inside your chimney, removing them can prove to be quite challenging.
Strong chemical cleaning agents are needed to scrub these deposits off and the fumes from creosote can be extremely injurious when inhaled.
For this reason, it is better to enlist professional help in cleaning your chimney than trying to do your chimney maintenance chores all by yourself.
What Are the Next Steps?
I know, it’s a lot to consider.
But that doesn’t mean that it has to be a stressful task. You can easily reach out to your local chimney company and have a done-for-you solution in no time!
But navigating through all of the chimney companies in your city can be a chore all on its own. And it makes sense, too.
Hiring anyone to come into your home to fix something like your chimney shouldn’t be a task you take lightly. So I created a list that you can use to make sure you make the right decision when you need someone to help you in your home.
Questions to Ask
When you’re hiring a chimney company, you should always ask the following questions before allowing them to come into your home:
- Can the company provide references?
- Does the company carry a valid business liability insurance policy?
- Does the company ensure that a certified chimney technician will be on the job?
If they guarantee all three of those, then you are in a good spot. The technicians don’t necessarily need to be certified by the CSIA, but I do recommend putting in a bit more due diligence before accepting a certification that’s not by the CSIA.
This is because certifications are a tricky thing, especially in an unlicensed industry like ours. Any company can craft a list of job-related questions and sell them as an exam and certify those who pass.
I recommend you take a few extra minutes in your research before making your hiring decision to learn more about the certification the company has. Here are a few tips to make sure the certification is reputable:
- Is the word “certified” just part of the business name or is it an earned designation?
- Is the certifying body a for-profit business or non-profit?
- Does the certification need to be maintained and renewed through continuing education as the industry evolves, or is it well enough to be certified through a one-time exam?
- Is the certifying body well-established or are they relatively new to the scene? New doesn’t mean “bad” but you should make sure the requirements for certification are more or at least equally stringent as those of more established certifications
- Is the mission statement of the certifying body focused on educating and protecting homeowners or is it more focused on making it easier to earn a certification?
- Does holding the certification require following a code of ethics?
If you can answer all of these questions, then I think it will be safe to allow the company in your home to work on your chimney.
Please note that If you are hiring a chimney company to install a cap for you, most of the time, they will need to buy the cap themselves. This is primarily for liability and insurance purposes.
Besides, it’s probably cheaper for them to buy a cap at the dealer discount than for you to buy one at retail cost.
It doesn’t matter if you are in Roanoke, Lynchburg, Blacksburg, or some other city anywhere in the USA — if you have any questions about the safety of hiring a chimney company, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 540-225-2626. I’m happy to help!
Schedule an Appointment
Patriot Chimney has a few CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps that you can trust with your home and family. During your service, you can expect your technician to inspect your chimney with a video camera so we can give a full top-to-bottom, inside out inspection.
We’re licensed, insured, certified, and guarantee you’ll be happy with your service.
Fill out the form below and someone from our office will give you a call to set up a date and time.
Your dedicated technician will arrive at your home on the agreed upon time and get to work!
You’ll be so thrilled that your family is safe and your chimney works perfectly that you tell all your friends!