The primary job of a chimney service professional is to aid in the prevention of fires related to fireplaces, wood stoves, gas, oil and coal heating systems and the chimneys that serve them. Chimney sweeps install, clean and maintain these systems, evaluate their performance, prescribe changes to improve their performance, and educate the consumer about their safe and efficient operation.
In doing their primary job of inspecting and sweeping chimneys, chimney professionals also function as on-the-job fire prevention specialists. They are constantly on the lookout for unsafe conditions that can cause home fires or threaten residents with dangerous or unhealthy indoor air quality.
How Often Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned ?
This a tougher question than it sounds. The quick simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association standard 211 says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don’t use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be cleaned at 1/4″ of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. Factory-built fireplaces should be cleaned when any appreciable buildup occurs. This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home.
Are there different types of cleanings?
Yes! They standard chimney sweep will handle most of regular use build up. There are times when a “deeper” clean is needed, this is called a Stage 3 cleaning. Typically, a Stage 3 cleaning is needed when a chimney has been used for extended times between cleaning as well as if a poor quality wood is used the creosote can build up much faster, this creates a thick glaze of creosote which poses a danger to burning when the chunks break off and reignite. A chimney inspection will help to reveal which type of cleaning is needed for your fireplace.