When to Clean your Chimney

Every chimney needs some routing cleaning, but how do you know when is the right time? No one wants to schedule a chimney cleaning service if they don’t need one, but you also don’t want to risk the danger of a fire.


Make sure your chimney is inspected annually, preferably in the fall or beginning of winter to check for any obstructions from animal nests during spring and summer. If you’re just moving into a new house, that is also the right time to have that inspection.


Here are seven simple indications that indicate your chimney needs cleaning:


  • Your fireplace smells like a campfire; you detect the smell of burned wood coming from the fireplace even when it isn’t lit.

  • When you light a fire in your fireplace, it just doesn’t burn as well as it used to.

  • It takes more effort to get a fire going and keep it going. It’s more difficult to get a fire started, which might be because your chimney is clogged and airflow is restricted.

  • Smoke fills the room. Even with the flue open, smoke from the fireplace permeates through the room.

  • The fireplace damper is black - this indicates creosote buildup. Creosote may appear as a build up of soft and flaky soot. In more advanced stages, it contracts into a hard, shiny substance that clings to surfaces in a tar-like fashion.

  • Fireplace walls have oily marks, also a sign that creosote is present.

  • There’s evidence of animals. You hear animal noises coming from your chimney or see signs of animal nesting (which can be trickier to do if the nest is inside the chimney).

If you’re experiencing any of the signs listed above, you know it is time to schedule your chimney cleaning. But, what if it’s been a while since you had it cleaned and you don’t see any glaring signs? How often you need to clean your chimney depends a great deal on how much you use it.


How Often Should You Get Your Chimney Cleaned?


There are two schools of thought from leading organizations. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), your chimney needs to be cleaned when there is 1/8″ of creosote and/or soot buildup inside the chimney liner. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) promotes annual chimney cleaning no matter how often you use it.


We recommend once a year chimney cleaning for wood burning fireplaces. Some homeowners schedule service for spring, but the majority schedule right before cold weather sets in so that the chimney is cleared of any nests or debris.




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