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Signs Your Chimney Needs to Be Cleaned

Signs Your Chimney Needs to Be Cleaned

On colder winter nights, there’s nothing quite like a fire roaring the hearth. If you use your fireplace regularly, however, you need to perform the proper maintenance. When chimneys aren’t cleaned, buildups of soot and creosote develop, which can have dangerous consequences. Here are a few signs that your chimney needs to be cleaned.

Cleaned

Detecting Creosote

Creosote is the main reason why chimney users need to perform regular maintenance on their chimneys. Most experts recommend that homeowners clean their chimneys at least once a year. These cleaning sessions are primarily to get rid of creosote buildup. Creosote is the result of incompletely burned wood; when you light a fire without sufficient oxygen, it results in unburned tar vapors, which collect over time. If the layers of creosote get too thick, it can cause chimney fires.

To avoid this fate, homeowners should know how to detect creosote buildup. First, they should check for downdrafts coming from the chimney. If the airflow is coming down the chimney, open windows and doors until the flow of air reverses. Once the air is moving in the right direction, put on a pair of goggles, grab a poker, and strike the creosote deposits above the smoke chamber. Ideally, the poker should leave a thin mark on the wall. If the scratch has the depth of a paper cut, your chimney doesn’t need to be cleaned. If the scratch has a measurable width, like 1/8-inches to 1/4-inches, your chimney needs to be cleaned before you use it again.

Other Signs That Your Chimney Needs to Be Cleaned

A visual inspection of creosote buildup isn’t the only sign of a chimney in need of a sweep. When using the fireplace, homeowners should be on the lookout for unusual activities, like slow-starting fires and smoke that fills the room or house. When the fire isn’t burning, homeowners may notice strange smells or gusts of cold air.

Don’t let your fireplace turn into a safety hazard. If your chimney needs professional assistance, look for expert chimney cleaning Washington DC.