Q. How often should I have my chimney cleaned?
This a tougher question than it sounds. The simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don’t use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be cleaned at 1/4″ of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. Factory-built fireplaces should be cleaned when any appreciable buildup occurs. This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home.
Many American homeowners think their chimneys only need to be cleaned and inspected if they burn wood in their fireplaces or wood stoves. But almost all heating appliances, whether they burn gas, oil, wood or coal, rely on the chimney to safely carry toxic gases produced by the heating system of the house.
Each fall, homeowners shift into home-improvement mode. They clean gutters, garages and basements — preparing homes for winter. But they usually don’t inspect, repair or clean their chimneys, despite the potential for damage to their property or even to their lives.
CSIA Sweeping & Inspections Tutorials
If you have ever wondered what it really is that your chimney sweep is doing while at your home, our new online tutorial is for you. You can now see HOW a chimney sweep goes about his or her job of sweeping and inspecting your chimney visit www.CSIA.org to access the tutorial.