A fireplace can be a great source of comfort, as long as it’s properly maintained. Before you use your fireplace, consider these tips for proper fireplace and chimney care.
Understanding Chimney & Fireplace Risks
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), fireplaces cause tens of thousands of residential structure fires every year. In addition to financial losses, many of these accidents lead to tragic deaths, which could have been avoided through proper maintenance.
The following Q&A can help you enjoy your fireplace without having to worry about catastrophic outcomes.
How Often Should I Inspect My Chimney?
You should have your chimney inspected by a professional chimney sweep every other year before winter.
How Much Will It Cost?
In most parts of the United States, a chimney cleaning will usually cost about $250. However, this all depends on the chimney and any potential complications, such as critters inside the structure or damage to the chimney.
The cost of an every-other-year cleaning is much, much cheaper than the risks of a dirty fireplace and chimney causing a fire, which can destroy your home and kill anyone inside the house. So, if you use your fireplace regularly, don’t skimp on cleaning it!
Why Do I Need an Inspection?
Over time, wood-burning fireplaces create tar deposits on flue walls. These tar deposits, known as creosote, are highly flammable and can burn as hot as 2,000 °F. Without a regular cleaning by a certified professional, creosote deposits can lead to incomplete combustion or serious fires, which can damage flue space and spread to the attic and other parts of your home.
A regular cleaning can also help you reduce the chances of other potential problems. For example, regular cleaning can remove acidic deposits that weaken metal and masonry chimneys, causing them to deteriorate prematurely. It can also help you minimize the instance of birds’ nests, animals, leaves, branches, twigs, pine cones, and other debris building up, which can cause obstructions.
What Will a Professional Chimney Cleaning Include?
Even the most ambitious do-it-yourselfer should not attempt a chimney inspection and cleaning. To avoid potential problems, it’s best to hire a CSIA-certified chimney sweep.
The chimney sweep will start by sweeping the fireplace and checking the liners, fireboxes, flue, and smoke chamber. They will also evaluate the chimney exterior and inspect for proper clearances.
After a thorough evaluation, the chimney sweep will make recommendations for any needed replacements or repairs. You may also be able to request a video inspection to look for hidden dangers that might lead to big problems down the line.
In addition to keeping your fireplace and chimney well-maintained, you should consider installing a rain cap, which can keep both water and animals out. You should also install a properly sized fireplace screen to keep flammable embers where they belong. Finally, it’s important to know that fires can cause carbon monoxide to build up by creating negative pressure in a home. Make sure you protect your family’s safety by installing a reliable carbon monoxide detector.