Many people go years without cleaning their chimneys – sometimes without even noticing! Dirt and debris will build up in your chimney over time with regular use, but it can be difficult to see, which gives many homeowners an “out of sight, out of mind” approach. What really happens when you don’t clean your chimney? Here are some of the safety hazards that can develop if you don’t clean your chimney over time.
One of the most important things to watch for in your chimney is creosote buildup. Creosote is a by-product of wood-burning fires that hardens into a black, sticky substance if your chimney isn’t cleaned regularly. Creosote is extremely flammable and poses a major fire hazard. Additionally, large amounts of creosote can actually block your chimney, making it hard for smoke to escape. Hardened creosote shouldn’t be cleaned on its own – you’ll need a professional to remove it effectively.
Over time, debris can make its way into your chimney from outside. A chimney cap can block most debris from falling in, but it is possible for items to slip through the cracks, especially if you live in an area prone to severe weather. It’s also possible for small animals to get into your chimney and get stuck. When debris gets stuck in your chimney, it can block the smoke from escaping and cause moisture to build up in the chimney as well.
When your chimney isn’t clean, it can actually make it very difficult to start or maintain a fire. This is because the oxygen flow isn’t consistent enough to keep the fire going. Even if you can manage to get a fire going, it won’t last long and will need a lot of maintenance. This is why it’s so important to get your chimney cleaned during the summer or fall, so you can use the fireplace in the winter.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell when to clean your fireplace, as there aren’t many external signs of damage. With particularly bad creosote buildup, you may notice dark, oily stains on your fireplace. You may also notice a smoky odor near your fireplace.
Regardless of whether you notice these signs or not, you should still have your chimney evaluated by a professional at least once per year. Ideally, you will want to do this during the summer or fall, so you have time to make any necessary repairs before the winter starts. During the inspection, your chimney professional will tell you if you need a cleaning or any repairs and can provide a quote for these services.
While regular chimney cleanings may not seem essential, they can ensure that your fireplace runs safely and more efficiently. If you are in need of chimney inspections, cleanings, or repairs in southern middle Tennessee or the Tennessee Valley, A1 Chimney Specialist can help. Give us a call at 931-967-3595 (Tennessee) or 256-285-4895 (Alabama) to schedule an appointment!