Fireplaces are an extremely popular home feature. According to a report by the Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue Association, more than half of the homes in the United States have chimneys. Although many homes have a fireplace, most of them are inactive.
Many homeowners mistakenly believe that they do not need to service their chimney if they do not regularly use them. This is simply not true. Whether you use your fireplace once or 100 times per year, every chimney needs regular sweeping and inspections. These regular maintenances ensure your chimney is free from damage, deterioration, buildup, and other performance problems.
How often should I get a chimney sweeping?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends all chimneys – regardless of fuel source or how often they are used – swept at least once per year. The National Fire Protection Agency also advises that “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”
Why should I have a chimney sweeping if I don’t use it?
Fireplaces that are not frequently used are in the highest risk category for undetected damage. Because they are not regularly used, homeowners may miss small performance problems that indicate the presence of a bigger chimney issue. A rarely-used fireplace may have less soot and ash to remove, but it still needs professional inspections annually to ensure it is safe to use.
What could be causing my chimney damage?
There are a number of things that can cause chimney damage – even if you do not regularly use your fireplace. The following are three common types of damage that are often seen in infrequently used fireplaces.
- Chimney damage – Damage to the exterior masonry of a chimney can occur regardless of how much you use the fireplace. Both severe weather and normal exposure to the elements can cause wear and tear to the chimney’s bricks and mortar. Without repairs, a small crack can quickly turn into a large chunk of missing masonry.
- Moisture – Water is extremely damaging to both the interior and exterior of a chimney system. Moisture from rain, snow, and even sprinklers can cause damage to the bricks and mortar of the chimney over time. Interior fireplace components are designed to withstand heat, not moisture. It can also rust or get damaged by water from a leaky chimney.
- Nests and pests – Unused chimneys provide prime real estate for birds, bugs, raccoons, roof rats, and more. In addition to causing damage to the fireplace and chimney, an animal entry can expose you and your family to a variety of bacteria, pests, and parasites.
No matter how often you use your fireplace, it is important to have annual inspections to keep your chimney system – and the rest of your home – safe. For more information on annual chimney inspections or to schedule your next appointment, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today!