How Often Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned?

A chimney sweep cleans a residential chimney. He is dirty.

No matter the size of your home or how attentive and diligent you are, it’s easy to overlook a few essential cleaning tasks that help keep your home safe. Chimneys are pretty high up, and it’s easy to get used to using one without maintenance or cleaning ever crossing your mind.

Chimney inspections and cleaning are important steps to protect your home, and neglecting to keep an eye on the status of yours could have negative consequences. Whether you operate your chimney a ton or if you haven’t used it in a while, you want to consider paying close attention to its status. Being attentive and noting why and how often your chimney needs to be cleaned can keep your home, family, and surroundings safe and well cared for. 

Why Does Cleaning My Chimney Matter?

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), failure to clean chimneys was a leading cause of fires for homeowners in the USA. That should probably be enough to get yours cleaned today, but it’s also important to understand the process that occurs when you light up your chimney.

When the wood in your chimney burns, it releases a creosote chemical that builds upon the walls. Creosote is highly flammable, in addition to the pieces of wood mixed in with the creosote buildup. Eventually, the more you light your fireplace, the crackles of fire and heat from the wood-burning create an environment conducive to fire. 

When homes in the 19th century were forced to be heated by only fireplaces, it was common for households to have chimneys inspected and professionally cleaned. Chimney fires usually start with loud crackling noises and can become explosive exceptionally quickly. Many homeowners who have endured chimney fires note the quickness and intensity of the blazes. 

When Do I Need a Chimney Cleaning?

If you don’t use your chimney or aren’t sure if it was used before, an inspection is our way to go. The ideal time to get your chimney looked at would be right before the burning season in the spring or summer seasons. At the very least, you want to get your chimney cleaned in the fall as the cooler months arrive. Additionally, if you have performance issues or feel like you’re experiencing strange noises or smells, you should get your chimney system inspected immediately.

How Often Should My Chimney Get Cleaned?

Regardless of how regularly you use your chimney, you should be getting annual chimney inspections by professionals. The NFPA also recommends getting your chimney inspected AND cleaned every year. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends chimneys be cleaned when there is ⅛” of buildup on the walls of your chimney system. You should also have other heating systems, such as furnaces and wood stoves, checked out every year.

Determine How Much Buildup Your Chimney Has

If you want to determine when you should get your chimney cleaned, you can measure the amount of soot present on your fireplace chimneys. Grab a pair of safety goggles, a flashlight, and a dust mask, and follow these steps to ensure your chimney is safe.

  • Make sure there is no extreme downdraft in your chimney. If there is, open a door or window until the airflow reverses.
  • Grab your flashlight and basic fireplace poker, head up your fireplace insert, and scratch into the black surface right above your smoke chamber.
  • If the groove is ⅛” thick, you require chimney cleaning and inspection.
  • If the groove is over ⅛” thick, you should avoid using your fireplace until it is cleaned out.

How Do I Protect My Chimney?

While it’s essential to get your chimney inspected and cleaned annually, you can enact a few methods to keep your chimney clean and safe throughout the year. Clean out your fireplace insert often, and consider purchasing a stainless steel chase cover, which helps to keep dust, debris, and animals from entering your chimney. In addition, you can have a chimney liner installed to improve the efficiency of your chimney and make it easier to remove creosote and harder for it to accumulate.

Get Your Chimney Cleaned and Inspected

If you think your chimney needs cleaning or aren’t sure about its status, Chimney Heroes is here to help. Chimney cleaning is difficult, even for the most enthusiastic cleaners, so you want to make sure you reach out to our experienced professionals. We know exactly what your chimney needs and can suggest the right tips to help protect your home.

For more information about chimney cleaning services in Upstate NY, contact us today!