If you have a working fireplace in your home, you've hopefully had it cleaned by a professional chimney sweep at least once since you've lived there. If not, and you plan on using the fireplace, your chimney should definitely be cleaned by a professional. Don't fall for these chimney cleaning myths that many homeowners buy into, or you could be putting your home at risk.
I can do it by myself
Thanks to the internet, and the surge in popularity of "DIY" style videos that can be found online, many homeowners think they can tackle cleaning their chimneys by themselves. This is a bad idea for several reasons.
- Without the proper tools, you can't be sure that you are getting all of the soot and creosote off the inside of your chimney. If left to build up, creosote can cause a fire in the chimney and potentially burn your house down.
- To clean your chimney thoroughly, you'll need to access the top of the chimney, on the roof. Chimney cleaners are used to walking on roofs, but are you? Hiring a chimney cleaner is much less expensive than paying for a trip to the emergency room if you fall off of your roof.
- You could damage the liner of your chimney if you aren't using proper tools. Some absurd DIY methods for cleaning chimneys are particularly dangerous for your chimney. Many old wives' tales suggest that dropping a burlap bag of bricks down your chimney will clean it, or burning salt will prevent creosote from building up, but neither of these are true. Bricks can damage the inside of your chimney as they bang against it, and salt can actually corrode the metal liner inside your flue, and you'll still have soot that these methods just won't remove.
I don't need to clean my fireplace if I only use it once or twice a year
Although your fireplace and chimney may not get "dirty" enough to be swept after just a few uses, you should still have a professional chimney sweep do a regular inspection every year. Damage from the elements, pest infestation, and cracks that form through natural wear and tear of your chimney can be impossible to see without a proper inspection, and these could make using your fireplace unsafe. Even with a chimney cap, water from storms can get inside your chimney and damage it.
Wood burning fireplaces aren't the only ones that should be inspected regularly; even gas fireplaces can experience chimney damage and blockages from bird nests. Don't risk forcing dangerous fumes back into your home from a blocked chimney, just have it inspected.
I won't need to have my chimney cleaned if I burn the "right" kind of wood
All burning wood produces soot in varying amounts. If you burn any wood in your fireplace, you will have soot inside the flue and chimney. Creosote, the dangerous compound found in most chimneys, is formed when smoke cools below 250 degrees F. Low-heat fires cause this creosote to form on the inside of your chimney, creating a flammable, sticky mess that is a danger to your home.
Wood that is unseasoned, or "green," is more difficult to burn and requires more time and heat to burn completely. It also releases moisture into the air that causes creosote to form, which lines your chimney and puts you at risk of a chimney fire. If you want to burn wood that you've cut yourself, let it dry out, or season, properly to make it safer to burn. Freshly chopped wood should be kept stacked, preferably off the ground, and left to dry completely, which can take six months or longer.
Don't fall for a dangerous chimney cleaning myth and put your home at risk. Have a professional chimney sweep inspect your fireplace and chimney annually, and you'll enjoy your fireplace safely for longer.
For more information about chimney cleaning, visit http://www.earlytimeshomesolutions.com.