Dangers of Neglecting Your Chimney Cleaning
The main reason homeowners put off having their chimneys cleaned is because they see no signs of problems. The fireplace seems to be working well, and they’re not aware of a chimney fire or internal chimney damage.
Oliver Twist Chimney & Fireplace of Huntington Beach, CA, would like to explain why it’s not a good idea to trust your judgment about the condition of your chimney.
Creosote is a serious problem
Creosote is a substance that forms when smoke condenses inside a chimney flue. The more fires, the more smoke, the more creosote. All this happens in places the homeowner can’t see.
According to most fire safety organizations, including the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), ignited creosote is the #1 cause of chimney fires each year in the United States. Chimney fires can be big, blazing events. They can also be relatively small and quick, starting and going out before anyone even notices them. Dark staining around the top of the exterior chimney and chunks of dried or flaky creosote in the firebox are clues that a chimney fire has happened.
But there’s no way to know on your own when a chimney fire is waiting to happen.
The danger of drafting obstructions
A chimney that goes year after year without proper cleaning by a trained chimney sweep may contain so much creosote that drafting is impaired. Neglected chimneys are also notorious for blockages caused by debris and the nesting material of squirrels, birds and other small animals. You can prevent debris and animals by having a secure chimney cap installed, which blocks everything, including damaging rain, from getting into your chimney. But only professional chimney cleaning will remove the creosote.
When smoke can’t draft efficiently, it often backs up into the house, carrying with it carbon monoxide. This invisible and odorless gas is known to be potentially fatal to people and pets.
How often should your chimney be cleaned?
Proper chimney services begin with an inspection. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends that homeowners schedule annual chimney inspections to check the safety and performance of their chimneys.
A qualified chimney inspector – who is often also a chimney sweep and repair technician – will evaluate your chimney and recommend a cleaning schedule based on your fireplace usage and creosote levels found in the flue.
What’s involved in a chimney cleaning?
Experienced chimney sweeps use a variety of rods, brushes, scrubbers, whips and other tools to remove creosote, soot, debris and the remnants of animals from chimneys. Good chimney sweeps take extra care to protect the inside of the home around the work area from dust and debris. A chimney cleaning should include a Level 1 inspection, which looks at all readily accessible areas of your chimney system.
Scheduling your chimney cleaning
Chimney crews tend to get very busy in the weeks leading up to the onset of winter, so it’s best to schedule inspection and cleaning in the spring or summer. This will give you more flexibility with scheduling and sufficient time for any needed repair work before you crank up your fireplace for another season.
Since 1987, Oliver Twist Chimney & Fireplace has helped homeowners throughout Los Angeles County and Orange County keep their chimneys clean, safe and efficient. We’re a proud member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild and are F.I.R.E. Certified.
Reach a Huntington Beach chimney expert today at (714) 843-9944 or get in touch through our simple contact form.