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The Complete Guide to Chimney Flue Maintenance

The Complete Guide to Chimney Flue Maintenance

As a part of responsible homeownership, homeowners should do maintenance on their chimney flue at least once a year, preferably twice a year: at the start of winter and at the end of winter after the fireplace has been in use all winter.

Why You Need To Clean Your Chimney Flue

When you burn logs in your fireplace creosote is formed as a natural by-product of the burning process; it is then deposited on the inside of your chimney flue where it starts to accumulate. Creosote is highly flammable and, if left unchecked, can cause a severe flare-up inside of your chimney – which could, in turn, spread to the rest of your house.

Gas Chimneys

If you have a gas fireplace then you should not have a problem with a buildup of creosote inside of your chimney; however, you may still have objects that are stuck within your chimney. If you do not have a cap on top of your chimney then you may have a problem with birds taking up residence. A birds nest can provide fuel for an out of control fire that could rapidly consume your home, the same holds true for assorted debris like leaves.

The best way to ensure that your chimney is free and clear of debris is to climb on top of your roof with a flashlight. Be sure to use the best in safety methods to ensure that you don’t injure yourself or your home in the process. Shine your flashlight down the chimney and see if you can see the open flue at the bottom – if your chimney is completely free of debris you will be able to see without obstruction.

Wood-Burning Chimneys

A wood-burning chimney is likely to have accumulated a fair amount of creosote that could prove to be a major safety hazard if not removed at least every twelve months.

How Chimney Flues Are Cleaned

In general, brushes are used to remove a build-up of creosote from all sections of the chimney. This task, when performed by professionals, is generally done from both the exterior and interior of your home.

If it has been some time since your chimney flue was given a good cleaning, the creosote that has accumulated within your chimney may not be able to be removed by brushing alone. In cases like this, chemicals are used in order to essentially dissolve the creosote and turn it into a fine powdery material that can be vacuumed up using a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner.

Every few months homeowners should consider burning a specialty log that is designed to dissolve creosote before the buildup becomes dangerously thick. Remember that using a creosote dissolving log does not take the place of a thorough cleaning.

If you find that the idea of cleaning your chimney is a daunting task, consider bringing in a team of professionals to take care of the job for you in the most efficient manner. Not only will professionals be able to quickly get the task done, but they will be able to do it in a fraction of the time. Having a professional inspect your chimney’s condition will also be able to help ensure that there is no damage to the structure of your chimney.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Owen Jones.

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