From providing a cozy setting for drinking hot cocoa to illuminating the home during the winter months, the fireplace has become a cold-weather staple for many family gatherings. And like other items in the home, the fireplace and chimney need consistent maintenance, especially if used on a regular basis.
Elizabeth Zimbro, Manager for The Chimney Doctor, laid bare the reasons for prioritizing fireplace and chimney inspection and cleaning.
“Chimney inspection is important to do annually, and chimney cleaning is important to do if used regularly,” Zimbro advised, adding that consistent cleaning will ensure that the chimney is in an acceptable condition to be used and the structural integrity is intact. If you do not get your fireplace or chimney inspected regularly, you’re running the risk of gas leaking into the home or a chimney fire.
There is a difference between maintaining a woodburning and a gas fireplace. A gas fireplace does not require annual cleaning, though the flue and chimney should still be inspected. That’s because gas appliances still accumulate minimal amounts of soot in their flue, so getting it inspected at least once a year is essential.
On a masonry structure, it is commonly cleaned from top to bottom with wire brushes to agitate the soot creosote that collects in the smoke chamber and flue. Afterwards a vacuum with special HEPA filters goes in to gather up all the fine particulates generated by a woodburning fireplace.
It is highly recommended to get a professional to inspect the chimney as they will be better equipped to know what to look out for and if anything needs repair. When searching for someone to inspect your chimney, look for a technician certified with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Also check that they’re licensed and insured in the state where they’re providing service.
It can be beneficial to make an appointment during the spring or summer to take advantage of off-season pricing. Once the cold weather hits, a resounding number of homeowners will be placing calls to get their chimneys inspected and getting immediate service will be more difficult. Furthermore, excess heat or humidity during the warmer months can generate excess odor from a dirty chimney flue.