While it is usually recommended that you clean your chimney once a year, it is not always so straightforward. The development of creosote inside the chimney does not always happen at the same rate. This can be influenced by the type of wood you use, how dry it is, and the number of fires you burn. Inefficient fires can speed up creosote buildup, forcing you to make more frequent service calls. A fire that gets enough air and burns cleanly will produce less creosote.
Since creosote is a fire risk, you should perform a basic check to see how much it has built up. First, get protective wear like goggles, gloves and a dust mask. You will also need a flashlight to see inside the chimney. Check for a downdraft from the chimney before starting. If you feel air coming down through the chimney, you can stop it by opening a window or door. This will help to push air buck up the chimney.
If you have used the fireplace, there will be some creosote inside the chimney. You can tell how deep it is by simply scratching the creosote. If it is thin and comes off easily, there is no reason for concern, and an immediate cleaning is not necessary. This is the first stage of creosote buildup.
The second stage will have creosote that is shiny looking and flaky. You might not even need to scrape it since it will obviously be thicker than the first stage. You might be able to remove most of it, but it will not be easy. Another thing to note is that you will not be able to get deep inside the chimney so it might be time for a professional cleaning. The third stage of buildup is even more serious, and is most often seen in frequently used or poorly maintained chimneys. It is also the result of using unseasoned wood, or using a flue that is the wrong size. Trying to use the chimney with this type of buildup can lead to a fire, so calling a chimney sweep is essential for efficiency and safety.
A professional sweep does more than clean your chimney. The work will entail a thorough inspection looking for damage, carrying out repairs if necessary, and making recommendations on chimney care. With this in mind, it may be necessary to have your chimney cleaned more than once per year. One smart step to take is to make an appointment in the summer so you can deal with problems early.
The chimney sweeps here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service are CSIA Certified and we have years of experience under our belts. We strive to continue our education as often as possible so we’re always in the position to offer you the best possible chimney services in Drexel Hill and all along the Main Line. Call us at 610-626-2439 to discuss your chimney needs or to schedule an appointment for a chimney cleaning, chimney inspection, or chimney repair.