Most homeowners know that they need to check their chimney regularly for any safety hazards. But how do you really know when it’s time to have your chimney swept? Read on to learn how to look for signs that a chimney sweeping is needed.
Why Chimney Sweeping Is Important
Having your chimney swept regularly keeps your home safe and your fireplace functioning correctly. Regular chimney sweeping can also keep your chimney from long-term damage, such as water penetration or deterioration of the brick or stone.
But most of all, having your chimney swept keeps it clean. It clears away debris, keeps away critters, and removes any creosote that has built up on the walls. Having a clean chimney isn’t just about appearance or even functionality. Debris or creosote buildup can be very unsafe, causing fires or allowing carbon monoxide to enter your home.
Even if you don’t use your chimney regularly, it is a great hiding place for small creatures looking for a warm place to live. Having your chimney swept regularly is the way to make sure your chimney is functional and your home is safe.
What Happens When a Chimney is Swept
So what does it mean, exactly, to have your chimney swept? Chimney sweeping probably isn’t at the forefront of your everyday to-do list, so it might be a bit of a mystery as to what it means to have your chimney swept in the first place. But there’s no need to worry; having your chimney swept is actually quite simple. Chimney sweeps are professionals who use metal rods tipped with a brush-like object to clean your chimney.
These rods are used to scrape debris and buildup from the sides of your chimney. Then chimney sweeps will clear out your fireplace, removing the soot, debris, and buildup they scraped off of the walls. After this, your chimney will be fully swept and your home will be safe and free of chimney fire-hazards.
5 Signs Your Chimney Needs Sweeping
Professionals suggest that chimneys be swept at least once a year, but varying factors may cause your chimney to need a sweep even more frequently. If you’re wondering whether it’s time to hire a chimney sweep, looking for these signs is a good place to start.
1. Smoke builds up in your home when using the chimney.
In a properly functioning fireplace, smoke should immediately rise and exit through the chimney. If you notice any smoke in your home while using your fireplace, this means you have some sort of blockage in your chimney. A blockage could be from debris, creosote buildup, animal nests, or a malfunctioning damper. A chimney sweeping will remove the blockage and have your chimney back up and running in no time.
2. You notice creosote buildup in your chimney.
When wood burns, not all of it turns into ash. Creosote is the remaining fuel, and it sticks to chimney walls. Once enough creosote has built up in your chimney, it can become a serious fire hazard. Creosote is flammable, and if it’s covering your chimney walls it is a disaster waiting to happen.
To check for creosote, shine a flashlight up your chimney and look for dark, rough patches on the chimney walls. If the walls do not appear smooth, there is likely buildup and your chimney needs to be cleaned.
3. There is evidence of animals living in your chimney.
Chimneys are dark and sheltered, a perfect opportunity for any small critter looking for a place to call home. Of course, you probably don’t want to share your home with these creatures, and they probably don’t want the surprise of smoke and fire in their newly-made nest. If you hear scuttering or rustling in your chimney, or notice nests of leaves and branches, chances are you have some new friends that need to be relocated. Animals can cause blockages and other fire hazards, so you should call a professional if you suspect they might be occupying your chimney.
4. You have difficulty starting a fire.
Chimneys are designed to have the correct amount of airflow for a fire to start and be maintained safely. If you have difficulty starting a fire or keeping a fire going, this probably means there is a blockage in your chimney and you should contact a professional immediately.
5. Foul odors are coming from your chimney.
If foul odors are emanating from your chimney, this is a definite sign that it’s time for a sweep and inspection. When your chimney is not in use, it should not leave any odors. When a fire is burning, odors should be limited to the refreshing smell of a warm, crackling fire. Any other odors might indicate that there are toxic gases entering your home from your chimney. These typically come from creosote buildup and can be very dangerous. A chimney sweep will remove the buildup, eliminate odors, and keep your home safe from toxic gases.