Over time, as you continue to use your fireplace, soot and creosote can accumulate and cling to the sides of the chimney. A certain level of accumulation puts the chimney at risk of blockage or can even set it on fire! Before the wood burning season, it is important that you ensure your chimney and fireplace is inspected and cleaned with the help of professional fireplace chimney cleaning services. This is important to ensure your safety when you ignite those embers.
Depending on how frequently you use your fireplace, the inspection and cleaning should be annual, twice or thrice that. If you use it once a week then yearly is great but if it is more frequent than that, then a professional fireplace chimney cleaning twice per year is recommendable. There are few signs to be on the lookout for that can indicate your chimney craves your attention. These include the following:
- Fires that burn poorly, or if during a fire any smoke comes back into the room.
- An odour of burning wood coming from the fireplace when it’s not being used.
- Presence of soot and most dangerously, creosote. Shining a flashlight inside the chimney damper should be able to show you the buildup.
Fireplace Chimney Cleaning: An Overview
It is possible to do a DIY (i.e. clean it yourself) but it is a process that needs thoroughness, can be messy and risky too. The best way, especially if the chimney has not been cleaned for a while, is to call a professional for a flawless fireplace chimney cleaning.
In case you want to do a self-cleaning then here is what you need to do your own fireplace chimney cleaning. You need a day to devote to the task and the proper equipment, it is possible to clean your chimney yourself. However, the process of fireplace chimney cleaning can be messy and dangerous, so be sure you have all the proper tools and assistance you need. You’ll need at least the following things:
- A tall and reliably sturdy ladder.
- A hard-bristled chimney brush and chimney brush extension rods.
- A dust mask, plastic tarp and goggles.
- A broom and dustpan.
First things first, use the plastic tarp to cover the carpet and furniture adjacent to the fireplace. Cover the fireplace too to avoid debris and soot from settling on them during the cleanup.
Go outside and place the ladder against the roof. If possible, have someone help with holding the ladder to ensure it is secure. Wear your protective gear (i.e. gloves, dust mask and goggles) and arm yourself with a bright flashlight. Then remove the chimney cap (should be fairly easy, just unscrew it) and check for debris from leaves, animals like bats, raccoons and even birds.
Extend the brush at the end of the rod and run the brush up and down the flue to remove the soot and creosote deposits as much as possible. Do this by turning it with a swirling motion. Keep turning the rods in a clockwise direction to prevent it from loosening from the rods while in the fireplace, chimney cleaning process.
Once your brush reaches the bottom, repeat the process and swirl it back up to the top. Keep repeating until you are sure you have removed as much debris and creosote as possible. Shine the flashlight down the chimney to visually inspect it. If satisfied, return the chimney cap and climb down. Go back inside and work on the fireplace by running small brush into the smoke chamber through the damper. Then vacuum the debris.
For those who have a wood burning stove, remove the baffles inside the stove in order to clean out the debris that was just brushed down the chimney.
Fireplace Chimney Cleaning and Maintenance Tips
Strive to burn only hardwood like oak and maple. Avoid greenwood and other questionable fuels since they burn longer and lead to faster creosote buildup.
Install a chimney cap or cover. It serves the purpose of keeping away animals and birds from finding abode inside your chimney which can cause a blockage. A chimney cap also keeps out rain and needs to prevent heat loss in winter too.
Understand and practice safer fire burning techniques like allowing for air to circulate. Make sure logs are properly supported so they don’t slip. Always open your damper all the way before a fire.
Chimney cleaning might be required annually but it doesn’t have to be so with your fireplace’s interior. Clean the interior regularly including the floor and keep a close eye on creosote buildup. Remember to wear a dust mask when cleaning especially when removing ash which must only be done when the ash is cold.
Install carbon monoxide detectors, change the batteries each season and test the detectors regularly. If you see dark smoke, adjust your dampers to allow for more air circulation.
Choose high-quality chimney cleaning and maintenance services to keep your chimney and your home safe and healthy. Contact our fireplace chimney cleaning experts at SootAway today for the best services in chimney sweep industry.