When it comes to fire safety, prevention is key. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), all chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year, regardless of how often they are used. This is especially important for those who use wood to fuel their fires, as creosote buildup in dampers and ducts can be a major fire hazard. Homeowners should inspect their chimneys for creosote buildup and clean if necessary in the spring of each year.
Cleaning the chimney may not be at the top of your list of home maintenance tasks, but it is essential for keeping your home safe. The NFPA and Spisto recommend that a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney once a year, regardless of the type of chimney you have. If you use oil or wood to fuel your fireplaces, Spisto suggests cleaning them twice a year. It's not just creosote that you need to worry about; birds' nests can also block smoke outlets.
Carli recommends that homeowners have their chimneys cleaned at least once a year, even if they don't use them often. Modern prefabricated metal chimneys are specially treated to withstand high temperatures without suffering serious damage. However, it is still important to have them inspected and cleaned regularly. A certified chimney sweep can make sure that your chimney is safe and free from debris.
Chimney inspections often reveal hidden problems with the structure that could be potentially dangerous. An experienced chimney sweep is the only way to know if your chimney needs cleaning or not. Developing a routine for scheduled cleanings with your local chimney sweep can help minimize major problems. You can try to remove creosote yourself, but for thorough work, call a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
Have the tools needed for this DIY chimney cleaning project ready before you start, it will save you time and frustration.