Regular chimney cleanings are necessary for any home with a working fireplace. Generally, annual professional cleaning and inspection are all that is necessary.
1. Prevent Chimney Fires
The risk of a fire in the chimney is the primary reason to schedule regular cleaning. Creosote, a flammable tar byproduct of burning wood, can build up on the interior walls of the chimney if it isn't cleaned out regularly. A spark from the fire below can ignite the creosote, resulting in a dangerous and destructive chimney fire. The risk is especially high when fires burn slowly and at lower temperatures. Burning insufficiently cured wood can also increase buildup.
2. Carbon Monoxide Concerns
Another real risk of a dirty chimney is the deadly and odorless gas carbon monoxide, which is a byproduct of the fire in the hearth. The chimney is designed to route carbon dioxide, as well as smoke, up and out of your home so it doesn't pose a threat. Even a partial blockage in the chimney can prevent the flow of the gas, which can be quite dangerous to anyone inside the house.
3. Improved Heating Efficiency
For those that use their fireplace to provide some heat, the most efficiently burning fire that produces the most even heat requires proper ventilation. This is in part provided by the chimney. A dirty chimney impedes the proper circulation of the airflow, which means the fire may not burn as hot or as thoroughly. The result is wasted wood fuel and less heat, which impact the cost efficiency as well as the heating efficiency of your fireplace.
4. Remove Smoky Blockages
Buildups of creosote or other debris in the fireplace can create a blockage in the chimney. Even if the dangerous gasses are able to make their way through, the sooty smoke likely won't. With a minor blockage, the main issue may be that a sooty residue slowly begins to build up on the walls and furniture in the room. A severe blockage means actual smoke will be blowing back into the room, causing a mess as well as respiratory distress.
5. Catch Damage Early
Damage inside the chimney can be a major concern. A cracked clay chimney liner, for example, can allow embers from the fire in the hearth to make their way into the walls of your home — a very dangerous problem. These damages are hard to spot when the chimney is dirty. Regular chimney cleaning is often combined with chimney inspections so that problems are caught before they become too severe.
Contact a chimney cleaning service to schedule an appointment.