In a society in which people fear being taken advantage of by unscrupulous companies and scam artists, it’s only natural that some homeowners may wonder whether regular chimney cleanings are necessary or just something cooked up to make companies money. In this case, sweeping your chimney at least once each year is absolutely crucial to protecting your home and your family. Here’s why.
The Risk of Fire is Real
According to the CSIA, or Chimney Safety Institute of America, there are well over 14,000 chimney fires each and every year that could have been avoided with proper cleaning and maintenance. These are documented cases where homeowners experienced significant damage to their chimneys – and in some cases their homes – due to dirty chimneys filled with soot and creosote. This alone is enough to drive the vast majority of homeowners to schedule a chimney sweep regularly.
How the Buildup Happens
When you light a fire in your fireplace, the burning wood creates a dangerous gas. In order to prevent this gas from entering your home and potentially poisoning you and your family, you open the damper on your chimney so that the gas will rise upward and safely out of your home. Unfortunately, as these gases rise, they carry with them soot and a chemical called creosote, especially if you are burning improperly seasoned wood or if an ill-fitting chimney cap has allowed moisture to gather on the inside of the chimney itself. If the creosote isn’t removed regularly, it can (and as the statistics above show – it will) eventually ignite.
DIY Chimney Sweeping
Some homeowners wonder whether they can save themselves some money and sweep their chimneys on their own each year rather than hiring a professional to do the job. Though there is some evidence suggesting that homeowners who have the required tools to clean the chimney properly may be able to further reduce the risk of fire by sweeping themselves between the annual professional cleanings, they should never skip those professional cleanings altogether. Remember that chimney sweeps have knowledge and experience that most homeowners don’t, making them better candidates for the job. Most homeowners find that hiring a professional once a year is worth the peace of mind.
Professional Chimney Sweeping Advice
You should call a professional to clean your chimney at least once each year, and if you use your chimney for more than a few months out of the year, twice annual cleanings are even better. Be sure that you hire a reputable company that has many years of experience, and make sure they guarantee their work, too. You should be sure that the technicians who will perform the work in your home are certified by the CSIA, as well. This ensures that they have received the training and experience they need to ensure a job well done.
Now that the importance of cleaning your chimney every single year (or more often) is apparent, it’s important that you make the call now – before the cold of winter sets in – to ensure that you can use your fireplace this season without the risk of fire.