This question may go without an answer most of the time. Chimneys are often an after-thought to most people. In Milwaukee, you don’t even use it for a majority of the year. You may not consider how often they need cleaning or maintaining. It is possible you’ve never considered the dangers involved in a neglected chimney. In this blog, we’d like to clear up some basics about chimneys and how to care for yours properly.
Why Do Chimneys Need Cleaning?
You need to clean your chimney to ensure proper operation of the heating system. If you don’t clean your chimney as often as you should, you increase the risk of a chimney fire. The best way to prevent a chimney fire from starting is to remove any soot and blockages from the various parts of the chimney. Blockages often occur from squirrel or bird nests. Additionally, burning wood creates a residue called creosote which collects on the walls of the chimney. After a season of constant fireplace usage, the residue can build up to be several inches thick. Creosote is highly combustible and very dangerous if left unattended.
If You’re Unsure, Schedule an Inspection
It’s been over a year since your last chimney inspection, you need to schedule one before winter. Perhaps you can’t even remember the last time you’ve even considered a chimney inspection. In that case, you should schedule one today. Chimney fires are no joking matter. They often cost people their chimney, roof, and sometimes, their entire home. It’s important to remember other heating systems like stoves and furnaces because they too can become compromised. Don’t discredit the importance of these areas of your home. A professional chimney inspector can tell you if your due for a cleaning or not.
How Often Do Chimneys Need to Be Cleaned?
“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.”
It’s recommended that you clean your chimney once a year. However, the frequency of cleanings also depends on how much use your chimney gets. Perhaps you have one but you never really use the fireplace. Then, you probably don’t need to clean it every year. You should, however, still get it inspected for other blockages from squirrels or raccoons that cause improper venting. Overall, the cliché that works best for most homeowners is “better safe than sorry.” Truly, the cost of cleaning is nothing compared to the costs of repair or complete replacement.
Chimneys are a big responsibility. Unfortunately, they often go uncleaned and unmaintained for years. We recommend the industry standard of inspection once a year and any additional cleaning/maintenance as recommended by the inspector.