How Often Should You Clean Your Chimney for Optimal Safety?

To ensure that all of their systems are working properly and functioning as they should, it is recommended that homeowners undergo an annual chimney inspection. Most homeowners choose to do a chimney clean every year as well, especially if they use their chimney on a regular basis. Other ventilation systems connected to ovens and stoves should also be cleaned regularly to maintain safer operation. Fireplace, stove, oven and heating systems are important for the safety of your home and family, and not an area to neglect or reduce expenses. Don't risk the possibility that an undiscovered defect will turn into a costly repair or, worse, a chimney fire.

You must have an annual chimney inspection by a reputable chimney sweep organization, such as Petro. Depending on how often you use the fireplace to burn wood, creosote residue will build up in the chimney. There are many factors that influence the amount of creosote attached to the chimney walls, such as the volume of air flow entering the chimney and the burning of improperly cured wood, that encourage such buildup. Creosote will also accumulate in the chimney if there is unburned wood in the combustion chamber. Of all the tasks you strive to keep up with in your home (cleaning brass, cleaning grout, cleaning mold, cleaning regularly), chances are that cleaning the chimney isn't at the top of your list.

While you're comfortable in front of the fireplace watching the crackling flames, soot buildup and flammable waste aren't exactly romantic things to think about (out of sight, out of mind, right?). Do we have your attention now? Yes. As with a wood burning installation, gas fireplace chimneys should be inspected and cleaned once a year. It's not so much creosote to worry about, as a bird's nest may need to be removed. This question also depends a lot on how often you use your fireplace or stove.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says: “Chimneys, chimneys, smoke ducts and ventilation systems should be inspected at least once a year for reservoir-free, soundness, and proper spacing. Maintenance, repairs and cleaning will be performed if necessary. Even if you don't use the fireplace often, raccoons, birds, squirrels, and other animals may use the fireplace as a nesting area. This will make the chimney unsafe to use without removing accumulated pest debris. Wind, rain and snow also drag leaves and branches into unprotected chimney openings. This means that there can be zero clearance to the inside of the chimney and zero clearance to the outside of the chimney.

Every time an appreciable buildup of soot and creosote occurs, it can be enough to fuel a chimney fire that can damage the chimney and even spread to the roof and home. Since homeowners may not be able to judge the status of the system, it is recommended that a CSIA certified chimney sweep perform a professional chimney inspection. Fire safety experts consider this to be enough buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading into the home. During cleaning, most soot and creosote will be removed from the smoke chamber, chimney liner, damper area, and combustion chamber. Before lighting the fireplace this season, you should do your due diligence and have the chimney properly cleaned and inspected.

Fireplaces are a wonderful asset to any home, and an annual system cleaning and inspection is the best way to prevent the chimney from becoming a dangerous fire hazard. A certified chimney sweep removes creosote, soot and obstructions from chimney liners, combustion chambers, smoke chambers and dampers. Protecting the safety of your family and home from damage are the real benefits of having a chimney inspection and proper cleaning. Homeowners are urged to inspect their chimneys for creosote buildup and clean if necessary in the spring of each year. You can safely assume that your chimney -and by extension your home- will not last long if your cleaning process is neglected.

In case you suffer damage from a chimney fire, it is recommended not to use it until you replace it. When not cleaned for long periods of time, creosote continues to build up in flue pipes during use of the chimney. The same problems (accumulation of creosote and soot) occur in wood stoves' as well as normal chimneys' flues. In addition, if outdoor flues have cracked crowns or mortar joints in poor condition moisture can enter causing tiles to crack.