Every year, America sees at least 25,000 incidents of chimney fires. These result in nearly 125 million USD in property damage. However, chimney fires are always treatable. All it takes is taking out some time to invest in frequent chimney maintenance, cleaning, and inspections.
Besides, a clean fireplace is not only safer but also incredibly important for your home’s aesthetic value. When the entire family gathers around the fireplace for a nice warm evening cup of tea, you want the fireplace to look sleek and perfectly dust-free with its radiant gold flames.
Here are some tips on how you can clean your chimney to maintain its safety and aesthetic value:
Please don’t do it yourself
Cleaning a chimney is dangerous work. There are lots of dangerous accumulations and deposits, including creosote and soot buildup.
Other than being stubborn and dangerous, these accumulations can only be removed through special equipment and brushes. Most of this equipment is tailor-made according to the specific size and dimensions of your fireplace flue. Only an expert can have access to the right kind of tools to clean out the ashes from the fireplace and prevent them from piling up.
When cleaning chimneys, there is also a risk of falling off the roof. It’s not common for a homeowner to have the right amount of balance to stay on top of a roof and take care of the messy work. You don’t want to see yourself getting stuck in the chimney—that’s far more dangerous.
Certified chimney professionals do a lot more than just clean your chimneys. They look for any underlying issues, avoid complications, and help your chimney last longer.
Routine cleaning vs. annual cleaning
Your chimney needs everyday attention as well as annual cleaning sessions. There are lots of benefits of scheduling annual cleaning checkups. Since creosote is flammable and exists in different forms and stages, a yearly cleanup session can effectively remove any traces from the smoke chamber.
However, this doesn’t mean that you need to wait for your annual appointment to clean the fireplace. This can lead to a very dangerous situation. Regular cleaning and upkeep areparticularly important during the winter season. It also helps to ensure that the venting system is operating perfectly.
How to clean?
When cleaning the chimneys on your own, please remember that you shouldn’t use cleansers for this purpose—unless the product was specially designed for fireplace cleaning. Your everyday cleaning solutions can leave a flammable residue behind.
To reduce the amount of creosote buildup, it’s a better idea to burn seasoned firewood that has a low moisture content. Clean out the ashes regularly. It’ll ensure plenty of airflow through the firewood and the grate. The airflow also ensures efficiently burning fire which eventually helps you control your heating costs.
It’s also a better idea to use the recommended safety procedures when taking out the ashes. You can also try and sprinkle some coffee grounds over the ashes once they’ve cooled down. This will help reduce the amount of dust and will make the removal process easier.
Don’t pour water down the fireplace to extinguish it—unless you’re in the middle of an emergency situation. The water will only make the cleaning process a lot more difficult by making the ashes pasty.
After you’ve removed the embers and it’s been 12 hours or so, vacuum the hearth area. Dusting and vacuuming will prevent soot buildup.
Signs that your chimney is in need of cleaning
To play safe, you should be waiting for any of these signs before you schedule a chimney cleaning session. However, it helps to be wary of the warning signs.
Always pay attention to any burning odors coming from the fireplace when it’s not in use. This is a warning sign. You also need to clean your chimney if the fire seems to be burning improperly/poorly or dumps too much smoke inside the room.
One of the most tell-tale signs of a dirty chimney is a black damper. Since the damper sits above the firebox, it can easily get caked with creosote. Examine the damper from the inside and see if there are any black chunks inside.
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