Chimney Cleaning Myths You Should Be Wary Of
Chimney cleanings are a vital part of fireplace maintenance. Even if you don’t use your fireplace, a poorly maintained chimney can become a safety hazard. There are many common myths about chimney cleaning. Buying into some of these myths can put you at risk. Have you heard these?
Myth 1 – Annual Chimney Cleanings and Inspections Are Unnecessary if you Rarely Use Your Fireplace
Removing soot and creosote isn’t the only reason to schedule a professional chimney cleaning every year. When your chimney is cleaned, a certified chimney sweep will include a chimney inspection. Even if you rarely use your fireplace, it needs an annual chimney inspection. Water damage and critter issues are two of the most common problems fireplace owners have. Catching water damage early can save you hundreds of dollars in repair costs. Clearing out nests left behind by birds, squirrels, and other critters that get into chimneys could save your life the next time you use your fireplace. If you use your chimney when an animal nest obstructs it, you are more likely to suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning. Whether you use your fireplace frequently or rarely, an annual chimney cleaning is a worthwhile investment.
Myth 2 – Metal Chimney Liners Don’t Need to be Cleaned
Many people believe this myth since metal chimney liners help your fireplace burn more efficiently and produce less creosote. It is false. Creosote does build up in metal chimney liners. Even a tiny amount of it in the flue can cause a dangerous chimney fire. Many chimney fires burn so quietly that you don’t realize you had one until the damage is discovered during an inspection. Metal liners can be severely damaged by a chimney fire or become warped from water intrusion. You may not be able to use your warranty for the metal flue liner if you haven’t had your chimney cleaned and inspected regularly. An annual cleaning is also necessary to clear out any obstructions in the flue, such as animal nests and lawn debris that can clog up the top of the chimney and prevent it from venting correctly. Never skip an annual chimney cleaning, even if you’ve upgraded to a metal flue liner.
Myth 3 – Do-it-yourself Chimney Cleaning is Easy & Effective
This is a dangerous myth. You can find dozens of videos on YouTube and multiple products claiming that DIY chimney cleanings are easy and effective. This is not true. Cleaning out creosote is a tough job. It can be nearly impossible to remove without professional equipment and professional-grade cleaning supplies. You can also create a huge mess if you don’t have the proper equipment to sweep your chimney. Often, we clear out enough soot and creosote in a flue to fill multiple 5-gallon containers. Skipping a professional cleaning also means missing out on an annual chimney inspection by a professional. This is the most significant risk. You can’t climb into your chimney and take a close look at the flue. Without training and experience, you will likely miss warning signs of chimney damage or wear and tear that need to be addressed quickly.
Myth 4 – Burning Pine and Other Softwoods Clogs Your Chimneys
It was widely believed that softwoods produce more creosote until a study by the University of Georgia disproved this myth. Their study determined that low-temperature fires are what cause large creosote deposits. Burning softwoods, like pine, isn’t the problem. Instead, be sure to use dry, seasoned wood when you build a fire so it will burn hot.
Myth 5 – You can Squeeze Down the Chimney
Have you ever read a news story about a thief that got caught in a chimney? This can happen, but it’s rare. Most chimneys are too narrow for anyone to climb into. That’s why professional chimney sweeps have specialized photography and video equipment that we use to get a good look at chimney walls when we suspect there is a problem.
There are many myths about chimney cleaning. Now you know the facts. Annual, professional chimney inspections and cleanings save lives! Even if you rarely use your fireplace or have a metal chimney liner, the chimney needs to be inspected and cleaned by a professional once a year. DIY chimney cleanings don’t cut it. Professional chimney sweeps, like our team at Burlington Fireplace & Heating, follow the high standards and guidelines for cleanings and inspections. Our chimney technicians have been trained by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Chimney Sweeps Guild (NCSG). We can spot warning signs that you will likely miss and ensure we don’t leave a mess behind. If you haven’t scheduled an annual cleaning yet, give us a call! This is the best time of year to schedule a chimney sweep.