When should you get your chimney cleaned?
It’s definitely fireplace season! Before you light a fire — be sure that your chimney is safe and sound.
You should have your chimney inspected once a year (more if you notice any issues). If you have recently purchased a home, you will want to have it inspected sooner rather than later so you don’t run into any expensive issues later on.
If you haven’t used your fireplace in a while, you might have critters that have found a warm place to hide from the cold. Winter freezing and thawing can cause damage to the masonry and liner material as well. If your chimney is older eventually you will have to address normal deterioration, you want to stay ahead of it for safety and to save money.
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys, fireplaces, and vents be inspected at least once per year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. They also recommend that if you notice any issues that you address them immediately rather than just not using your fireplace. Remember that even if you never use your fireplace/chimney pests might have taken up residence.
The Chimney Safety Institute says that fireplaces should be cleaned when 1/8' of sooty buildup is evident inside the chimney and flue system. If you see any glaze in the flue, cleaning should be even if there is not 1/8" of buildup. Any time a significant accumulation of soot and creosote occurs, it can be enough to fuel a chimney fire that may damage the chimney and even spread to the roof and home. Furnace flue systems also require cleaning, so don’t neglect regular cleaning of those venting systems.
Let’s say you use your fireplace a lot. As in, you have it on as soon as dips below 50 degrees, and you use it every single day (or close to it) till you see tulips blooming. If your fireplace gets a workout every year, it can produce a lot of soot and creosote. You’ll want to get your fireplace checked out at the end (or even before the end) of winter to make sure everything looks right and that there is nothing that could turn into something more significant later on.