In the United States, chimney fires are the main cause of house fires during the cold winter months. Chimney fires can affect over 50,000 homes per year. These fires can cause millions of dollars in property damage.
Over time, the inside of the chimney begins to build up with soot and creosote, both of which are flammable. If these deposits are allowed to build up, they will eventually ignite and cause a chimney fire. When you have your chimney cleaned, this build up is removed from the chimney walls. According to the National Fire Protection agency, chimneys should be inspected each year to determine if any cleaning or repair is needed. You also need to keep in mind that how long you burn a fire, the kind of wood you use, and the amount of moisture in the wood could also lead to excess build up in the chimney.
Here is one other interesting point that chimney users need to keep in mind. Often, you will have a more substantial buildup of deposits in your chimney when you use your chimney less frequently or when your burn time is much shorter. This is a surprising phenomenon but one that is attributed to the fact that the walls of the chimney stay cooler when the burn time is shorter or less frequent than if the fire was burned longer or more frequently. Moisture and condensation tend to form quicker on cooler surfaces than on warmer surfaces, causing soot and other deposits to also form quicker.
So when is a good time to have your chimney cleaned? If you use your fireplace less frequently, then having your chimney cleaned once a year is plenty. In addition, if you burn drier wood then having a yearly inspection and cleaning of your chimney will also suffice. For the most part, the spring or early fall is a good time to have your chimney cleaned. Not only are chimney cleaners less busy, but it also cleans the chimney walls before the rain and humidity of the summer months sets in and causes a slight odor or musty smell from developing out of your fireplace.
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The Dapper Ducts team wants you to know all about indoor air quality.