Can I get a Chimney Inspection and Sweep During Winter?

A fireplace is an incredible asset to have in your house as cold winter descends on Portland. It’s not only one of the main features prospective homeowners look for when shopping for a home, but changes the dynamic of your entire home on stormy nights.

However, you can’t just make fires for years and leave a mess. Like other parts of your house, the fireplace needs care to stay working and keep your home safe.

To keep your chimney system working well, you need to hire a chimney sweep technician for a seasonal inspection and repair. These visits are a check up for your chimney and an important part of owning a fireplace. But, when should you get it done, and how do you do it?

How Winter Weather Damages your Chimney

Bricks and mortar are strong materials made to handle the weather, but many people don’t know that bricks soak up water. This means that when it rains or snows, a bit of water can get into the bricks. If the bricks are in good shape, they might only absorb a tiny bit of water, but if they have cracks or holes, they can soak up a lot more.

During winter, a common way bricks get damaged is through the freeze-thaw process. When it’s cold, the water inside the bricks freezes and makes them expand. When it gets warmer, the ice melts, leaving bigger cracks for more water to go in. This process can make bricks crack and break in just one year if there’s enough damage

A properly fitting chimney cap and water sealant application to shelter and protect your chimney from excessive water accumulation and further damage.

The Importance of a Chimney Inspection

a professional chimney sweep inspects the interior of a soot-stained fireplace.

Whether you are using your fireplace regularly or just occasionally for special times, having a chimney check-up every year is important for keeping it in working order and your family safe. These inspections help catch problems or spots that are getting worn out early, way before they become big issues.

Doing this kind of check regularly doesn’t just keep your chimney safe; it also helps you save money. Getting a chimney inspection and fixing small problems costs way less than having to rebuild the whole fireplace or chimney.

The tough winter weather can be rough on chimneys if you want to prevent damage from snow and ice.

What is a Chimney Sweep?

a chimney sweep, with a brush in hand, stands near a fireplace preparing to clean.

A fireplace has different parts that make it work well and create warm fires. One crucial part is the chimney because it lets the gases from the fire go outside of the house.

The chimney also brings in air from outside and takes it to the fire, helping it start. People might use the word “flue” to talk about the whole chimney, or sometimes just an opening in the chimney where the gases go out.

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the chimney is the most important part of the fireplace. It makes sure the air in your home gets exchanged without any big safety problems.

Why Get a Chimney Sweep?

a cozy living room with a burning fireplace and a professional chimney sweep at work, ensuring safety and efficiency.

The main reason to get your chimney cleaned is to make sure your fireplace works well. A cleaned chimney means your fireplace will work better, last longer, and be safer. When a chimney gets blocked, it can become a health risk for people in the house.

In the United States between 2012 and 2014, an average of 22,300 fires involving fireplaces, chimney fires and related incidents. From 2016 to 2020, 30% of all house fires were attributed to a fireplace or chimney.

Think of it like a blocked tube – if nothing can go in or out, it’s a problem. If your chimney is blocked, the gases from the fire can’t travel through the correct area and end up circulating inside your home. These gases can then come back into your house, making it unhealthy for you and dangerou

What is Creosote?

a chimney sweep uses a brush to clean the inside of a chimney.

Another big reason people hire professionals for chimney sweeps is because of the harmful substance called creosote that can build up inside the chimney. Creosote is a thick, black, tar-like material, and it forms when things burn.

When gases from a wood fireplace or gas fireplace travel up the chimney, some of them stick to the walls and create creosote. A bit of creosote is normal and happens when any plant or organic matter burns. But if there’s not enough airflow in the chimney, it can lead to too much buildup.

Here’s where it gets risky. When there’s not enough airflow, more creosote builds up on the chimney walls as embers climb. This added creosote then makes it even harder for air to flow, causing more creosote to form in your chimney system. It becomes a dangerous cycle.

Since creosote can catch fire easily, it’s crucial to take care of it before it becomes a serious problem.

It is alarming that an estimated 25,000 chimney fires occur in the US each year, resulting in a staggering property loss of approximately 125 million dollars. Simple inspections by qualified technicians or your friendly portland chimney cleaning company can handle this risk.

Who Can Perform a Chimney Sweep?

a uniformed chimney sweep carrying brushes and a flashlight prepares to inspect a home's chimney for the approaching winter.

A certified chimney sweep is the only person qualified to check and clean your chimney. Chimney technicians from trusted companies have the know-how and special tools to keep your chimney in tip top shape.

They follow strict safety rules from organizations like the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association. The sweep process checks for creosote buildup, how strong the chimney is, and if it’s clean – all important for safety and efficiency.

When you hire someone, make sure they’re certified chimney sweeps. This certification means they know a lot and have hands-on experience dealing with your chimney.

Think of them as the protectors of your fireplace, ready to solve any issue, from creosote buildup to blockages, keeping your home safe and warm. Their inspection can find problems you might miss, making Oregon winter the perfect time for a chimney check-up.

When is the Right Time To Get a Sweep Done?

The National Fire Protection Association says you should check chimneys and fire-starting devices once a year. Homeowners need to be on top of this and schedule a chimney sweep or at least an inspection every year, especially for those who use their fireplaces a lot.

If you can measure the creosote yourself, schedule a sweep when it’s 1/8″ thick. Avoid using the fireplace if it’s 1/4″ thick.

It’s smarter to plan an inspection and sweep before the winter. Winter is tough on fireplaces and chimneys because people use them more in cold weather. Heavy rain in fall and winter can cause problems like branches falling or birds making nests.

Also, by October, when it gets cooler, you might want to start using the fireplace. If there’s a problem that needs fixing, you may not be able to use your fireplace until it’s fixed.

Approximately 48% of accidental fires attributed to heating sources occur in the winter months, December through February when temperatures decrease. 

So, even if you do delay and it’s winter you can often still do an inspection or sweep in winter, but you might miss out on using your fireplace if there’s an issues needing repair. It’s best to schedule an inspection in the fall to make sure your chimney and fireplace are ready when you’re ready to enjoy it.

Reasons to Prioritize a Chimney Inspection

a cozy living room with a fireplace awaiting inspection, smoke gently rising from the chimney outside in the chilly winter air.

Choosing to prioritize a chimney inspection and sweep in winter goes beyond keeping the cozy feel of your fireside; it’s a crucial part of fireplace safety to lower the chance of house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

The time is perfect for saying goodbye to unwanted chimney pests, extending the life of your fireplace, preventing expensive repairs later on, improving heating efficiency, and meeting home insurance requirements. Taking this important step protects not just your property but also the well-being of everyone living inside. Because of oversimplifications of the chimney service process we’ll cover each of these items in detail so you can more easily spot and protect your family.

Reduce the Risk of a House Fire & Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Both gas fireplaces and wood-burning fireplaces need a professional inspection and cleaning every year to prevent fires and carbon monoxide issues.

For gas fireplaces, problems with components are the main reason for fires. It’s crucial to have a NFI-certified technician inspect it to check for issues like holes in the gas line that could lead to a fire or carbon monoxide exposure.

Even though gas fireplaces don’t create creosote, the risk of house fires can come from things like debris or animal nests in the chimney.

In wood-burning fireplaces, the main danger for a house fire is creosote. Even a small amount can be dangerous, burning at high temperatures for a long time. It can seriously damage your home’s structure.

Get Rid of Chimney Pests

If your chimney doesn’t have a cap, it’s easy for critters to have found their way in. Animals, from birds and bats to raccoons and squirrels, like to make nests in chimneys.

These critters might bring along other pests like lice or diseases. Bats, in particular, can carry diseases that humans can catch. NFI-certified chimney sweeps know how to deal with chimney pests.

They can also advise you on the right size and type of chimney cap to install, preventing pests from getting in again in the future.

Increase the Lifespan of Your Fireplace & Prevent Expensive Repairs

Chimneys go through a lot of wear and tear. The strong chemicals and high heat from the fire can wear down the chimney liner or masonry inside the flue, while strong winds and heavy rain can cause water leaks from the outside in. Having a yearly inspection is crucial to check for any serious damage that might have occurred over the last year. It also helps catch small issues early on, so you can make small repairs now and avoid bigger problems later.

Regular maintenance, like fixing a damaged chimney cap, applying waterproofing to the masonry, or installing a new chimney liner, helps your chimney last longer. If you ignore these smaller things, it could lead to costly repairs in the future or even stop you from using your fireplace.

Improve Fireplace Efficiency

Fireplaces work better when the chimney is free from blockages and creosote buildup. Without obstructions in the chimney, more oxygen can flow into the firebox, feeding the fire.

An efficient fire is great because it generates more heat using less fuel, meaning you won’t need to constantly gather wood. Plus, efficient fires are environmentally friendly since they produce fewer harmful emissions.

Keep Up with Home Insurance Requirements

Many home insurance policies actually demand an annual chimney cleaning and inspection. If you face a house fire and can’t show proof that you met this requirement, your claim may not be accepted, leaving you with the full cost. Don’t take the risk!

Should I Fix My Chimney Myself or Call a Pro?

a professional chimney sweep standing next to a fireplace with tools for inspection and repair.

When it’s cold and you’re warming up by the fire, you might think about fixing your chimney yourself. But should you do it yourself or call a pro? Even if you love DIY projects, chimneys need special skills and tools to be worked on properly.

Think about this: every part of your chimney is important for it to work safely. If the quality of your work is not up to code it could leave the entire home in danger the next time you stoke up a fire. Pros deliver a higher quality project to a higher standard than someone attempting. itfor the first time.

Remember, taking care of your chimney isn’t just about keeping it clean – it’s about keeping your home safe. Without the right training, you might miss dangers like carbon monoxide leaks or weak spots that can lead to fires. A professional chimney sweep doesn’t just clean; they check, figure out issues, and fix them, putting your home’s safety first.

So, before you climb onto the roof in winter, ask yourself if it’s worth the risk. When it comes to your chimney, it’s smart to let certified pros do the job.

Need Help with your Chimney this Winter? Call Portland Fireplace & Chimney for Trusted and Quality Service!

a chilly winter evening with smoke gently billowing from a well-maintained chimney atop a cozy home.

For efficient and worry-free winter fireplace use, you need expertise, and that’s what Portland Fireplace & Chimney provides. We are local pros in chimney inspection and sweeping, certified by NFI and the leader of our local chimney guild. Our team is ready and able to fix your home as we’ve done to so many others across Portland. From basic chimney care to in depth chimney masonry repair our team has the capacity. tohandle projects of all types.

Did you wait until winter to fix your fireplace or notice something dodgy when you made your first fire? Make sure your home is ready to face the cold with a chimney inspection. Our proactive maintenance program ensures your years of cozy seasons ahead.

Portland Fireplace & Chimney understands the urgency, and even in winter, they have the right tools and knowledge for thorough sweeps. Contact us with the confidence that you are in good hands! Don’t take chances with your chimney’s health in the cold season. Trust Portland Fireplace & Chimney, the experts in chimney inspection and repairs. We customize our services for Portland’s winter challenges, providing reliable and quality service when our customers need it most. Stay ahead of the frost – make sure your chimney is prepared for whatever comes your way.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to inspect chimney?

To examine a chimney, begin by visually checking for any visible issues like cracks or loose bricks. Use a flashlight to inspect the cap, flue liner, and chimney crown inside. Additionally, look for creosote buildup. On the exterior, examine for leaning or damaged bricks.

How long does a chimney inspection take?

A typical chimney inspection usually takes around 30 minutes to an hour. The duration can vary based on factors such as the size and condition of the chimney.

Who does chimney inspections?

Chimney inspections are typically carried out by certified professionals known as chimney inspectors or sweeps. These individuals have the expertise to assess the condition of chimneys and identify any potential issues.

Does insurance cover chimney repair?

Insurance coverage for chimney repairs can vary depending on the specific terms of your policy. It’s essential to review your insurance policy to determine whether chimney repairs are included and to what extent.

Is chimney sweeping dangerous?

While chimney sweeping, when performed by professionals, is not inherently dangerous, it involves certain risks. Working at heights and handling soot can pose some hazards. However, trained chimney sweeps take safety precautions to minimize any potential dangers during the process.

Can chimney repair be done in winter?

Yes, chimney repair can be done in winter, but it depends on the specific repair needed and the weather conditions. Some repairs are possible in winter, while others may be more challenging due to extreme cold or snow.

Can chimney sweeps work in the rain?

Yes, chimney sweeps can work in the rain, but it’s not ideal. Wet conditions can make the job more difficult and dangerous, and certain equipment may not function well when wet. Dry weather is preferred for a more effective and safe cleaning.

Can I inspect my own chimney?

Yes, you can inspect your own chimney to some extent. Look for visible signs of damage, such as cracks, loose bricks, or excessive soot buildup. However, a professional inspection by a certified chimney sweep is recommended at least once a year to ensure a thorough and accurate assessment of your chimney’s condition. They have the expertise and tools to identify hidden issues that may not be visible to the untrained eye.

Share the blog