After a winter of heavy use, most homeowners let their fireplaces fade into the background during the warm months of summer. For many, removing the remaining ashes, cleaning any stains, and wiping away soot leaves the fireplace ready for another season of use. However, fireplaces and chimneys should be swept by a professional annually to prevent any potentially hazardous buildup from becoming a far more dangerous issue down the road.
How often should my chimney be cleaned?
The CSIA, or Chimney Safety Institute of America, advises that chimneys be swept any time there is a sooty buildup in excess of 1/8th of an inch inside a flue or fireplace. As determining the amount of buildup can be difficult for the average homeowner, the CSIA recommends that they should “be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances” by a certified chimney professional.
What time of year is recommended for a cleaning?
Although many homeowners wait until the weather cools off to schedule a chimney sweep appointment, it is important to have your system inspected before it is used for the first time each fall. Scheduling an appointment during the warm summer months not only guarantees that a system is in working condition when the weather begins to cool off, but also ensures that homeowners beat the fall rush and can schedule an appointment at their convenience.
Why are chimney inspections important?
Having a professional inspect and clean your chimney each year is an essential aspect of home maintenance. Unlike an average homeowner – or even a handyman – chimney sweeps are professionally trained to look for imperfections, flaws, and/or cracks that may not be visible to the untrained eye. While all systems should be inspected annually, inspections are especially important in homes that have recently had any upgrades or changes to their fireplace systems, such as converting to gas logs or the addition of a fireplace insert.
If you have recently purchased a new home, it is recommended that you have a cleaning done in the summer or fall, despite the timeline given by the previous homeowners, as this allows you to establish a relationship with a chimney sweep company, as well as informs you of the exact condition of your fireplace, flue, and chimney components. In some cases, it may be possible to work with the same company as the previous homeowners.
Scheduling an annual appointment with the same provider allows someone to become acquainted with the condition of your particular system who can then check on it over time to monitor its progress. This familiarity ensures that any changes such as cracks or blockages are quickly detected and mended, preventing the need for emergency maintenance or costly major repairs. Likewise, staying with the same provider over a period of time often means you do not have to schedule an appointment each year; traditionally, companies send out reminders to their repeat customers to let them know that they are due for an annual inspection.