Q. How often should I have my chimney swept?
The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don’t use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be swept at 1/8″ of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home. Factory-built fireplaces should be swept when any appreciable buildup occurs. The logic is that the deposit is quite acidic and can shorten the life of the fireplace.
Q. What’s the best time of year to clean my chimney?
Spring to Summer is the best season to clean a chimney for several reasons: Any problems uncovered during cleaning/inspection can be repaired in time for the next burning season. You’ll prevent the foul odor that occurs when hot, humid summer air reacts with creosote in a dirty chimney. You can usually get an appointment right away instead of waiting weeks for an appointment during the busy Fall/Winter months. (OUR BUSY SEASON)
I heat with gas. Should this chimney be checked too?
Although gas is generally a clean burning fuel, the chimney can become non-functional from bird nests or other debris blocking the flue. Modern furnaces can also cause many problems with the average flues intended to vent the older generation of furnaces. We suggest you check the areas on gas and carbon monoxide for more information.
What’s safe to burn in the fireplace?
Only seasoned wood.
Q: What is your position on chemical chimney cleaners?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a non-profit, educational institution focused on the prevention of chimney and venting hazards, is concerned about the consumer use of chemical chimney cleaning products to the exclusion of conventional chimney inspections and cleaning. These products often are promoted for their ability to remove a portion of the creosote from a masonry or metal chimney interior through catalytic action when burned in a fireplace or wood stove. The CSIA believes that the use of these products alone is not an adequate substitute for mechanical chimney cleaning and inspection because it does not provide the same level of protection to the chimney system. Current promotional claims for some of the products may be creating a false sense of security among consumers.
It is the consensus of qualified experts that chimney maintenance is best achieved through annual inspections, and mechanical sweeping, by trained professional chimney sweeps as frequently as needed.