Q. How often does my chimney need to be cleaned?
A. This is a great question, your chimney is different than every other chimney and the frequency it needs to be cleaned will depend on many different factors. The best answer is, a chimney that is used regularly should have an annual safety inspection by a professional chimney sweep who can assess the needs of your chimney.
Q. When should I have my chimney cleaned/inspected?
A. It’s a good idea to schedule your chimney inspection/cleaning directly after the burn season or early summer. The big benefits to this are that you will have any easier time scheduling rather than waiting for the fall rush. The other good reason is that if the inspection reveals any needed repairs you’ll have more time to get them scheduled and completed before the winter.
Q. My fireplace hasn’t been used in years, can I just start burning in it?
A. You should have the chimney inspected by a professional chimney sweep prior to using any flu that has not been in use for an extended period of time. Many things can happen to to a flu over time that can require repair or cleaning prior to use. An unused flu creates an inviting home for animals, a previous owner may have blocked the flu to prevent access to animals, natural shifting and movement may have cause voids or cracks in the flu. Any of these situations or others could render the chimney unsafe to use and require attention prior to use.
Q. Do I need a chimney cap?
A. Chimney caps are not mandatory, they are however a good idea in almost all cases. A professionally installed chimney cap will prevent excess water from entering the flu and causing moisture damage. Most caps are equipped with stainless steel mesh that will prevent wildlife from making their way into your chimney and possibly into your home. Some faulty draft issues can also be rectified with a properly fitted and installed chimney cap.
Q. I had a minor chimney fire but it went out and I didn’t need to call the fire department, can I keep burning as usual?
A. NO, the answer is no, if you had a chimney fire then your chimney needs to be inspected and most likely needs to be cleaned. A chimney fire is NOT an effective way of cleaning your chimney. Chimney fires reach temperatures that can exceed 1800⁰f and will damage your chimney even if it looks fine from the outside.
Q. I was told that if I re-line my chimney with a stainless steel liner it doesn’t need to be cleaned, Is that true?
A. No this is absolutely false. All chimneys that are venting an appliance whether it is a furnace or a fireplace will need to be cleaned at some point and they should all be inspected annually by a professional chimney sweep.
Q. How long will it take for my chimney to be cleaned?
A. This will vary from chimney to chimney but you can plan on between 60 to 90 minutes.
Q. What is a flu?
A. Think of a flu like the exhaust pipe on your car. A flu is a masonry or metal tube that carries emissions from an appliance up the chimney and out of the house. A chimney can contain more than one flu, for example, a fireplace on the first floor, a fireplace in the master bedroom and a furnace in the basement will all have separate flues but can all be in the same chimney.
Q. What is a draft?
A. As it relates to your chimney, “draft” is the air flow that carries emissions up a flu and out of your house. A draft is created by warm air rising and creating flow up the flu.
Q. What’s that white stuff on my chimney?
A. That white stuff is called efflorescence and is caused by moisture in your chimney, you can read more about efflorescence here.