Homeowners rarely examine their chimneys apart from a quick glance at the exterior. While a chimney may seem like one home feature that doesn’t require regular maintenance, a closer inspection often reveals otherwise. Soot and other particulate matter can build up on the interior of your chimney and any blockage can lead to smoke entering your house, or worse. Whether you use your fireplace three times a year or fifty, chimney cleaning needs to be a regular component of your home maintenance efforts.
Soot buildup is normal for any chimney. The natural result of burning wood, soot can accumulate on the inner walls of the chimney and on the chimney cap. Over time, this can lead to reduced airflow. A clean chimney has a reduced presence of soot, which means better performance and less risk for smoke intake.
However, it’s not just soot you need to worry about. Creosote is another substance that is often found on the inner walls of chimneys. Another byproduct of smoke, creosote is even more problematic than soot. This is because it is flammable and excessive creosote buildup will not merely reduce the airflow; it can actually start a fire.
If you don’t have a chimney cap, soot and creosote may be the least of your problems. Chimneys without a protective cap often have a problem with debris intake and in some cases, animals can get into the chimney as well. Bird nests have been known to start fires in chimneys. Dry leaves and other debris can pose the same problem. If you don’t have a chimney cap, you will need to have your chimney cleaned even more often than you would need to otherwise.
You may be under the impression that you can easily clean your chimney yourself. There are several reasons why you should hire a professional company. If you attempt to clean your chimney on your own, you may end up with a significant mess and a chimney that is not much cleaner. The removal of substances like creosote often requires the use of special tools that you may not have or know how to use. In addition to cleaning, a professional chimney sweep can assess the structural integrity of your chimney and determine whether there are any physical flaws that need to be fixed.