Even among those who regularly use their fireplaces in the fall and winter, the chimney is often a part of a home that gets overlooked. Seeing as how the chimney provides an avenue for dangerous smoke to leave a home safely, this neglect is unfortunate. A chimney needs to be cleaned and inspected regularly if it is to be safe to use, and here are some more specific reasons why.
As a rule, a chimney should at the very least be inspected once a year, preferably in the summer or early fall before it will see any heavy use. Any new chimneys or those connected to new fireplaces or woodburning stoves should also be inspected midway through their first burning season to make sure that they’re in good shape and can be used safely for years to come.
Perhaps the best reason to have a chimney inspected regularly is to monitor creosote buildup. Creosote is a material that is formed whenever wood is burned. It can appear as a light, ashy substance in the back of a firebox, or it can appear as a black tarry substance that sticks to the inside of a chimney. This material is highly cumbustible, and while you will always have a little bit in your chimney if you use your fireplace, too much of it can create a fire hazard.
Creosote should be cleaned as necessary, but chimneys probably don’t need to be swept every year unless you’re using your fireplace on a semi-nightly basis. However, a chimney inspection will help you determine when it’s time to clean the creosote from your chimney.
Other Things to Consider
A chimney inspection can also help uncover other problems in your chimney that should be addressed. A chimney that hasn’t seen a lot of use can be an attractive nesting ground for birds or squirrels, and the chimneys themselves can be damaged by severe weather. Inspections can uncover these issues so you can have them repaired.
Whether you use your fireplace regularly or your chimney hasn’t seen a lot of use, you should still consider having it inspected. Simply enter “chimney inspection DC” or wherever you may live to find a chimney cleaning and inspection company near you.