The answer to this question depends on what kind of fuel is being used. It also depends on a few other factors: the age of your home, the condition of your chimney, and the weather - the more mild winter, the more problems you may experience. Typically if wood is being used, it is a good idea to have the chimney cleaned at least once every 6-12 months, but more often if green wood or two or more cords of wood are being burned. Oil flues require inspection and cleansing every year to avoid any blockages within the chimney, especially if there are any ventilation problems. A chimney can have serious problems with soot if there are any issues with the furnace or boiler. As many know, natural gas is considered to be a clean burning fuel, some modern high-efficiency gas furnaces can generate problems. These gas furnaces produce cooler fumes which produce high levels of water vapor leading to water condensation. Hydrochloric acid can also occur when these water vapors contain chlorides and combine with house-supplied combustion air. Flue deterioration is more likely to occur when the hydrochloric acid infused vapor condensates from these modern natural gas furnaces than in older models. It is very important to check the vent in chimneys that use this system at least once every year.
Keeping up with the maintenance of your chimney and ventilation system is seriously important when it comes to preserving your home and protecting the health and safety of your family. An annual cleaning of your chimney and vent system removes flammable buildup and blockages, as well as alerting the homeowner to any repairs that need to be made in the chimney and/or vent system.
Within the inner surfaces of the chimney flue liner can be a highly flammable residue, called creosote, which is brown or black in color. If it is given the opportunity to build up, creosote can combust and spread to other flammable materials in your home, such as nearby wood framing. It can even cause cracks in flue liners made of ‘fireproof’ brick, stone, or clay. Failure to have an annual cleaning of a dirty chimney is a leading cause of many house fires every year.
Our suggestion to you is to have your chimney inspected and cleaned when the cold winter months have passed, when you are no longer utilizing your chimney regularly. This will allow you plenty of time to schedule any repairs that need to be made to the chimney before the next cold season begins.
The professional chimney sweep has been around since the 1700s, and is still a very important and much needed occupation today. Early Romans began using a single fire in the center of a room and upgraded to an isolated fireplace which was used to heat their buildings and was also used to cook indoors. However in the 16th century, the trend of using fireplaces and chimneys caught on in England. Not much time passed before people began building fireplaces in each room of their home to be used as a source of heat.
With the amount of soot that the chimney sweepers were exposed to and the narrowness of the flues, it was a very dangerous and difficult job to clean the inside of chimneys. This job was often left to poor orphan boys because of the dangers and since they were small enough to fit inside the flues without many other issues. They were typically brought in by the chimney master or they were sold by their parents to become a part of the trade. These boys earned the name of a ‘climbing boy’.
Being a ‘climbing boy’ was not a very desirable job due to the danger involved. These children often developed respiratory problems and other similar issues because they worked in such heavily soot and grime filled conditions. Rotting chimneys also caused fatal falls that were not uncommon. “The Chimney Sweeper” by English poet, William Blake, describes the difficult and dangerous life of being a chimney sweep boy.
Chimney sweepers are required to remove soot, blockages, and build-up of creosote from the chimney flue liners, the firebox, the smoke chamber, and the damper. This thorough cleansing of your chimney and heating system creates a safer operation within your home or business. Even with the slightest amount of creosote accumulation, it creates potential for a chimney fire. Burning wood within your chimney regularly creates creosote, which is a highly flammable substance that builds up along the inside of the chimney flue liner. Accumulation rates can increase if poor burning practices are used or if the burning appliance or stove is not working properly due to poor maintenance. Different amounts of creosote can build up from burning different kinds of wood. A rapid build-up of creosote can be formed by burning pine, and it should be avoided as a usual source of wood. Reduced efficiency and draw of the fireplace can also be caused by creosote build-up. When it comes to sweeping your chimney, we cover all of the following elements: