Chimney Sweep in Wilmington
In the winter months, a nice fire in the fireplace can warm up the whole home and create a cozy atmosphere. A well-maintained chimney will allow you to enjoy all your fireplace has to offer safely and efficiently. Unfortunately, if the chimney isn’t in good shape, it can be incredibly dangerous, and there is a risk of a fire or smoke damage inside the home. Homeowners should have their chimney cleaned and inspected on a regular basis and understand how to care for the chimney to prevent major issues and keep their home and family safe.
When to Have a Chimney Cleaning Done
Chimneys are often overlooked but crucial parts of fireplaces, wood burning stoves and even furnaces. No matter what kind of chimney you have, chimney cleaning is a critical part of chimney maintenance to ensure safety and efficiency. A cleaner flue leads to higher efficiency and better airflow to reduce smoke inside the home. According to the National Fire Protection Association, homeowners should have a chimney cleaning done at least once per year. It’s best to have this done when the weather starts to get cool, so the fireplace is ready to use when the homeowner wants to use it. However, it may be a better idea to contact a chimney sweeper a month or two before fall starts as they’ll be less busy this time of the year.
What Happens if Chimney Sweeping Isn’t Done
Chimney cleanings can help prevent fires, protect the health of those in the home, and prevent smoke damage inside the home. If a chimney cleaning isn’t done regularly, creosote can build up in the chimney. It’s also possible for a chimney blockage to occur due to animals nesting in the chimney or the creosote buildup. Any blockage can lead to smoke damage occurring inside the home or carbon monoxide poisoning for those in the home. It can also lead to a fire, which can quickly become disastrous and destroy the structure of the home.
What a Chimney Cleaning Should Include
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, a chimney sweep should, at a minimum, perform a Level 1 Chimney Inspection. This is the most common of the 3 Safety Inspections and includes a visual inspection of the chimney and the flue. The chimney sweeper should inspect the interior and exterior of the chimney to determine if there is a buildup of creosote, if there is anything blocking the chimney, and if there is any other damage to the chimney. When this is done once per year, homeowners can discover problems before they cause further issues, saving them money as they can be repaired now before they have a chance to get worse worse and cost more to fix.
Regular Chimney Maintenance Prevents Major Issues
Homeowners should have any repairs done as soon as possible after the issue is noticed. In most cases, it’s important to avoid using the fireplace until the repairs are done to prevent further issues that can be more expensive to fix. Professionals can handle masonry repairs to ensure the chimney is structurally sound. They can also perform inspections for chimney leaks & waterproofing to ensure the chimney does not have issues that lead to water damage inside the home. Other services include chimney flue repair, chimney flue re-lining & replacement, and creosote removal.
Signs You Need Chimney Repair
There are general signs that chimney repair might be needed before the homeowner has an inspection done. These can include the following.
Problems Starting a Fire – If the homeowner has trouble starting a fire or keeping it burning, it could be due to poor airflow or a blockage.
Strong Odor – Strong, unpleasant odors often happen because the updraft system isn’t working properly and can be a sign of carbon monoxide getting into the home.
Smoke Inside the Home – A buildup of smoke in the home indicates there is a blockage in the chimney. This could be from creosote in the chimney or from animals nesting in or on the chimney.
Damaged Damper – If the damper is difficult to open or close, it needs to be repaired immediately as waiting will lead to further issues.
Animals in the Chimney - It is possible that birds and other animals will get into the chimney and cause a Chimney Blockage or other issues. Homeowners who can hear any animal noises in the walls near their chimney should have the chimney inspected immediately. A common concern for homeowners is a bird’s nest on the chimney, but other animals like raccoons or squirrels can enter the chimney from the roof in search of a home. Any time animals are detected or suspected in the chimney, a professional should be called for Animal Removal. This will minimize the potential damage the animal can do and help ensure any blockages from the animal can be cleared away before the fireplace is used.
Preventing a Fire and Other Issues
The biggest safety concern for a chimney is the potential for a fire. Fires can start in the chimney, then get into the walls of the home and quickly destroy the home’s structure. These fires often spread incredibly quickly because they’re inside the home, leading to a huge risk for the occupants.
Homeowners should use the following tips to help prevent a Chimney Fire:
Burn the Right Wood – Only burn seasoned firewood in the fireplace. It takes around 6 months for wood to become seasoned and will sound hollow when hit with another piece of wood when it’s ready.
Use Proper Fire Starters – Fires should be started with clean newspaper or dry kindling. Homeowners should never use gas or kerosene to try to start a fire.
Only Burn Wood in Fireplace – Burning boxes, wrapping paper, Christmas trees, or other items in a fireplace can be dangerous and quickly lead to a fire inside the home. Besides potentially causing flames larger than your firebox can safely handle, other materials may release toxins and floating ash within your home.
Have Inspections Done Regularly – Level 1 Inspections should be done yearly to prevent creosote buildup and to check for blockages that could lead to a fire. For additional inspection information, see our Chimney Inspection page.
To take care of your chimney and be able to enjoy fires throughout the coldest months of the year, proper care and maintenance are required. Have the chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once per year to prevent major issues and make sure the chimney remains in good condition. Always call for 24 HR Emergency Service if any issues are noticed and ensure any needed repairs are done fast. Start working with a local chimney sweep today so you can ensure your fireplace and chimney are in great shape and ready when you want to light a fire.