Despite the fact that experts recommend annual chimney cleaning, there are some people who still don’t realize that this is important. The Chimney Safety Institute of America suggests that cleaning is necessary if there 1/8 of an inch of creosote deposits inside the chimney. The National Fire Protection Association has a slightly different view. They suggest an annual cleaning even if there is less creosote buildup.
One of the first things to remember is that with every cleaning, comes an inspection, and this is vital to the long term health of the structure. This will reveal any signs of damage that could pose a hazard, or lead to expansive repairs later on.
Typical Chimney Cleaning
The chimney sweep’s main job is to remove the creosote that accumulated in the chimney each time you used your fireplace or wood stove. The liner, smoke chamber, damper and firebox will also be cleaned. The technician will check for and remove any debris that is causing a blockage. The main goal is to keep the chimney safe for use, and to reduce the risk of a fire. Checking the damper to make sure it can close properly is also important. This keeps dangerous gases from entering the home, and lowers your heating costs when you are not using the fireplace.
Creosote deposits are unavoidable when you burn wood, but you can make it worse by using unseasoned wood. If the logs are not completely dry the moisture that is released will hasten creosote buildup. Some wood types are also known to produce more creosote during burning.
While small chimney fires can occur without further damage to the home, this issue should not be ignored. Even a small fire can spread and eventually threaten the entire home. The point is, creosote is highly flammable, even in minimal amounts, so it is best to make a cleaning appointment even if you do not use the fireplace frequently.
Identifying Chimney Damage
During the inspection, the sweep will look for signs of damage to help keep your chimney functioning well. Some of the most common problems are:
- Cracks in the flue lining which could cause heat to leak and endanger the rest of the home
- Moisture intrusion which can lead to severe damage over time. It can cause cracks and flaking, and it can weaken the structure. Other parts of the home such as the foundation and attic can be affected.
- Problems caused by the wrong sized flue or improper component installation.
Poor chimney maintenance decreases efficiency as creosote buildup affects the draft. Blockages can also send carbon monoxide into the home. These are all good reasons to get the chimney checked every year, even if you do not use it often.
Fireplace Safety and Chimney Inspections in Drexel Hill
We have two CSIA Certified chimney sweeps standing by to assist you with your chimney needs. Give us a call at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment for a chimney inspection or cleaning. We provide chimney services throughout the Main Line region.