Whether you’ve lived in a house with a fireplace your entire life or you’ve just moved into one, it’s easy to overlook chimney maintenance. And if you haven’t done any research, it’s not entirely obvious why a chimney would need regular cleaning. After all, the only thing that goes through it is smoke, right? Let our Maryland chimney cleaning company offer you a few recommendations when it comes to the frequency of chimney cleaning. But before we get to how often, let’s first determine why cleaning your chimney is necessary at all.
Why You Need to Clean Your Chimney
We all know that chimneys are black inside and are covered in soot. But soot is just a byproduct of combustion—it’s light, powdery and doesn’t do anyone any harm, right? You may be right about soot, but unfortunately it’s not the only byproduct of combustion. The one you should really worry about is called creosote. It comes in many forms from sticky to flaky and shiny, and coats the inside of your chimney. Certain types of wood and burning conditions may produce more or less creosote. Generally, the more frequently you use your fireplace or stove, the more creosote is left in your chimney.
Take a look at this video showing the inside of a chimney packed with creosote. Although this is an extreme case, and this particular chimney has probably never been cleaned, you get the idea what it can do:
These dangerous amounts of creosote can easily lead to a chimney fire. In fact, judging by the state of the chimney and the roof in this video, there was already a chimney fire or two in this home.
Chimney Cleaning Recommendations
Regardless of how much or how little you use your wood-burning fireplace or stove, if you use them at all then get it inspected at least once a year. Since in Maryland most people use these appliances primarily during winter, you can schedule the inspection either before or after the heating season, i.e. in spring or fall. Fall may be a better choice because you also get an opportunity to remove any wild animals like squirrels or raccoons that may have made a nest in your unused chimney during summer.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends hiring a CSIA Certified chimney sweep for annual inspections. After the inspection the sweep will let you know whether chimney cleaning is necessary. For people who burn wood only occasionally, sweeping once a year may be sufficient. However, if you use your stove or fireplace as a primary heat source for your home, you may need to have your chimney cleaned monthly during the heating season.
As we mentioned, a lot also depends on the type of wood you burn and your burning habits. For example, unseasoned wood tends to produce more creosote, and so do slow-burning fires. The location of your chimney can also play a role in how fast the smoke inside of it cools down and is forced to condense. There is usually little you can do about that besides improving chimney insulation, but be sure to discuss your options with your Maryland chimney sweep.
Give us a call today or contact us online if it’s been a while since your chimney was inspected or cleaned!