5 reasons to clean and inspect your chimney before winter

November 6, 2014

If you love the cosy crackle of a roaring fire on the hearth, but haven't had your chimney cleaned recently, you're putting both you and your family's safety at risk. Here are five reasons you should get the chimney properly cleaned before the cold weather arrives.

5 reasons to clean and inspect your chimney before winter

{Image Credit: iStock.com/Bill Oxford]

1. Risk of fire

The more fires you build in your fireplace, the more creosote that builds up in your fireplace flue.

The term "flue" simply refers to the channel within a fireplace that carries smoke from the fireplace up and away from the house.

  • Technically, the inside of your chimney (whether or not it is lined) is a flue.

Creosote is a highly flammable, black or brown, tar-like substance that is produced by burning preservative-treated wood or unseasoned firewood.

  •  If it isn't cleaned out, the built-up creosote could possibly ignite and cause a fire in the chimney.

Other sources of fire hazard include animal nests.

  • Over the spring and summer months, squirrels or birds may build nests in your fireplace chimney.
  • The nests are highly combustible and pose a significant fire hazard.

A qualified chimney sweep will remove the nests and debris during the fall months, after the creatures are gone, before you build the first fire of the season.

2. To check for hidden damage

During a standard servicing, a professional chimney cleaner will inspect your entire fireplace, flue, brick seams, damper system and chimney for cracks or other safety hazards.

  • When discovered early, most splits in the fireplace seams and mortar are easily fixed.
  • A professional chimney cleaner will also inspect hard-to-see areas that may be hidden to your eyes. What's more, he or she will be able to spot issues that may not be obvious to untrained eyes.

3. To maximize the flue's lifespan

A chimney flue's lifespan can be significantly reduced if the soot and creosote are not cleaned out at least once per year.

  • Soot and creosote trap moisture against the flue's surface, which can cause it to deteriorate.

4. To maximize efficiency

A blocked flue system causes a fire to burn poorly and heats the home unevenly. It also prevents smoke and other harmful gases from properly venting out of the chimney.

  • Your furniture, walls and other surfaces may start to smell like smoke and become discoloured from sticky residue.
  • More importantly, a blocked fireplace can easily cause hot gases and smoke to back-up into the home – which is dangerous!

5. For insurance requirements

Many people are unaware that some homeowner's insurance policies require that fireplace flues be cleaned at least once a year.

  • If a fire erupts and you don't have proof that your fireplace and chimney were cleaned by professionals, your insurance might not cover the damage.
  • When you have your chimney swept, make sure you get proper documentation and hold onto it.

Before the start of each winter, always have your chimney cleaned, inspected and cleared of any debris or buildup that could potentially start a fire. A professional chimney sweep has all the right tools to do the job thoroughly and check the overall condition and efficiency of your chimney.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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