Chimneys are made up of 3 components which are the flue, the firebox, and the damper. These are held together by metal bands called firebricks. The flue is found on top of the chimney stack where it carries out combustible gases from the fireplace to atmosphere. The damper has a handle that can be adjusted to control the amount of air allowed to pass through it and into the firebox. Gas fires do not produce combustible gases that need to be carried out but rather just heated air which is allowed to rise into the flue before exiting the chimney.
A fireplace needs sweeping when there are excess ash particles, soot buildup, or creosote accumulation in it. Creosote is a dark residue that can collect on flue walls and accumulate enough eventually to catch fire causing a house fire. A good way to avoid this from happening is by having your chimney swept regularly at least once a year. Dr. Chimney Sweep recommend servicing your chimneys 2-4 times per year for optimal performance and safety.
If you have a chimney in your home, there are few things more important than to hire a professional chimney sweep to inspect and clean it regularly.
A study conducted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shows that over 20% of all fires reported in residential buildings were caused by creosote buildup on chimneys. Creosote is a tar-like substance formed as wood and other types of fuel burn. Left unattended, it can turn into flammable tars that ignite and cause fires. Creosote often builds up on dampers or screens placed near vents that allow fireplaces to draw air from outside. If those dampers were to close completely, the fireplace would be unable to release smoke.
– When you are starting to notice an unusual amount of creosote buildup on your flue’s inner walls.
– If the fireplace cinder cover is loose or damaged, which can cause it to close off access to oxygen needed for combustion. Damaged screens will need to be replaced if they are not operating properly.
– So that you can ensure your flue is clear between regular cleanings by doing things like relining it with smaller tiles if necessary and inspecting it for holes or cracks. Chimneys lined by using stainless steel tiles have no fear of rusting, so they will never need their linings replaced over time as opposed to those lined with clay tiles which do rust.
– Chimneys should be swept before the heating season begins, which is typically between September and May depending on where you live. This will help remove any creosote buildup that might have formed before the regular burning period starts. Any debris like bird nests or dead animals can cause fires if they block the flue and ignite inside the chimney due to a lack of oxygen supply.
– Chimneys should also be swept after extensive use during winter or summer barbeques when frequent burnings take place over a short amount of time instead of only once every week or so as is more common for homes with fireplaces. If you do not buy firewood but rather cut your own, this is another time it’s important to have your flue inspected and cleaned.
– They will clean it from top to bottom so that you can be sure creosote buildup has been thoroughly removed. Creosote removal should take place before any other type of cleaning such as brushing or washing with water takes place.
– Professionals have professional tools that can get into hard-to-reach areas where safety precautions keep them from going themselves because they are too high up or too narrow for a person to fit inside. Their equipment includes a specialized rod known as a brush hog which has stiff wire bristles attached to the end of it in order to loosen debris, brushes for targeted scrubbing, and high-powered vacuum systems that are not available to the average homeowner.
– They can inspect your chimney for damage, holes or cracks which need repair before the heating season begins. If you do not get your chimney inspected, it is more likely that a fire will break out later on due to creosote buildup or other issues with the flue. Damaged areas might only be noticeable after an inspection has taken place because of their location inside the chimney where they cannot be seen from outside without climbing up into the fireplace itself.
– They have special safety equipment including rope harnesses and special gear for accessing hard to reach places. Chimneys are high up above ground level so making sure there are no obstacles in one’s path in case they need to climb high enough for a good look inside is very important.
– They will be able to assess whether or not you have an adequate draft going through your chimney which needs to be powerful enough in order to allow smoke from the fire to escape up and out of the flue. Drafts that are too weak can lead to smoke backing up into your home instead of being released outside, posing a significant safety hazard.
– Cleaning from top to bottom allows them access any soot buildup on all sides of the fireplace’s interior, particularly in hard-to-reach areas where it might accumulate over time without simple cleaning solutions like water and brushes being able to reach it. Soot can catch fire itself if given the chance, so by removing it completely you greatly reduce the risk of a chimney fire breaking out over time.