According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are an estimated 70,000 house fires each year which causes over $1 billion in property damage – 30% of those house fires are caused by a neglected chimney.
There are a lot of reasons why you need to do Chimney Cleaning: Preparing for Colder Weather and to avoid fire are just some of those reasons. Here are more reasons why regular chimney cleaning is essential for a safe home.
As you would know, regular chimney sweep prevents fire. The more you use wood for your fireplace the more it creates a carbonaceous chemical called creosote. This substance can accumulate on your fireplace, and they’re highly combustible.
The following are signs you have creosote buildup in your chimney:
- Drafting is reduced in the fireplace
- After a fire, there is more wood than ash.
- You notice soot around the fireplace.
- Remarkably dark smoke is coming out of the chimney.
- A visible soot buildup inside the fireplace.
The more buildup you have of this substance, the more likely there is to be a house fire.
Prevents Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Another importance of regular chimney cleaning is to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. More than creosote, another byproduct of fuel burning in your home is the accumulation of carbon monoxide.
When you have a blocked chimney flue due to creosote buildup, there is not enough ventilation for the smoke. The smoke contains carbon monoxide which can be lethal when inhaled for an extended period. Prolonged exposure to this substance can lead to nausea and flu-like symptoms. In some extreme cases, it has even lead to death. It is difficult to spot carbon dioxide as this gas is odorless and colorless.
Here are ways to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Be sure that the flue is open when using your fireplace
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Particularly in each floor and hallways.
- Visit a doctor when you experience flu-like symptoms when using the fireplace.
Preserve Chimney Masonry
An excessive amount of buildup from soot and creosote can damage the masonry features of your chimney. When the masonry is damaged, it can cause flue blockage, inefficient ventilation and increased chances of a house fire. Masonry repairs are much more expensive when compared to regular chimney maintenance. Never think twice about the cost.
Prevent Animal Intruders
If you have a home that has a chimney and you haven’t used it for a long time, you still need to do regular chimney cleaning. Doing so will get rid of any animals that may have lived inside it. Animals like squirrels, birds, and raccoons can mistake your chimney as a safe place to inhabit. Do regular checkups to prevent animal intruders from creating a home on your chimney.
For example, a fireplace without a chimney cap can be a place for birds to create a nest. Call animal control when you hear flapping sounds inside your chimney and never attempt to start a fire and smoke it out.
Other Ways To Prevent Chimney Fire
More than having your chimney regularly checked by a professional, make sure to follow these simple steps to prevent chimney fires further.
- Build Small Fires – A small fire can be easily managed, and they don’t produce as much creosote, therefore reducing possible buildup.
- Use dried or seasoned woods – Wet woods would naturally burn slowly, and the condensation from wet wood burning increases creosote buildup. Dry wood will sound hollow when you hit against another piece of wood. Wood usually takes 6-months before it’s completely dried up and ready to burn.
- Never use paper to start a fire – Avoid using wrappers, papers, garbage or even dried plants to start a fire in your chimney. These things can float to the top of the chimney and ignite the creosote deposits.
- Never use combustible liquids – Gasoline and kerosene should never be used to start a fire. These things are highly flammable and can spread quickly.
How often you need chimney maintenance depends on how much you use it. But a good rule of thumb is to have it cleaned at least once a year before winter. It is best to schedule the cleaning during late summer when weather conditions are ideal. Having a clean and debris-free chimney during the winter will give you a peace of mind that your home is safe from fire.