If you've recently moved into a new house and it's the first time you've had a fireplace and chimney, you may be wondering if you need to have the chimney cleaned before you use it. It's always best to be safe since a build up of creosote in the chimney can easily cause a house fire. Even if it doesn't need to be cleaned yet, having your chimney inspected will give you peace of mind. Here are a few things to know about maintaining your new fireplace.
Have Regular Inspections
Since you've just moved into your new home, it's a good idea to have the chimney inspected before you use your fireplace for the first time. After that, it's a good idea to have it inspected every year or two. Even if you don't use the fireplace too often, it can still develop problems that you'll want to know about. When a professional inspects the fireplace, he or she will determine if it needs to be cleaned and if the bricks and other parts are still in good shape. This ensures your chimney works properly so you are protected from harmful smoke, fire, or fumes.
Hire A Chimney Cleaner For A Thorough Cleaning
Cleaning a chimney is a dirty job. While you could do the job yourself if you have the right tools and feel comfortable climbing on your roof, the slightest mistake could cause your room and furniture to be coated in soot and dust. Cleaning the chimney stirs up particulates that waft into your home if you aren't careful about sealing your fireplace. Then once the chimney is finished, you'll have to be cautious when cleaning the new layer of soot from your fireplace so it doesn't spread. You'll probably find it is much more convenient to hire a professional to clean out your chimney, especially considering you need to buy special brushes and equipment if you want to do it yourself.
Know When It's Time To Clean Your Chimney
It's difficult to predict how often you should hire someone to clean your chimney. It all depends on how often you use the fireplace and what type of wood you burn. A chimney is cleaned to keep creosote from building up. Creosote forms when wood is burned in the fireplace. A very hot fire made with hard wood will make less creosote than a fire made with soft wood or a smoldering fire made with damp wood. To reduce the frequency of cleaning, you should protect your chimney by using seasoned firewood that is completely dry.
You can tell how much creosote is in the chimney by scraping the side of the bricks with the fireplace poker. If you still see plain bricks and barely see a scratch at all, then your chimney is fairly clean. If you can see a black layer of creosote, but the scratch down to the bricks is less than 1/4 inch, then you should schedule a cleaning at your earliest convenience. However, if the layer of creosote is so thick that the scratch is 1/4 inch or more in depth, then you shouldn't use your fireplace at all. The risk of fire is too great, so you should have your chimney cleaned out right away.
You may also want to consider the best time of year to schedule your chimney inspection and cleaning. You want your chimney to be free from creosote buildup and animal nests before you use it in the fall. However, cleaning it at the end of the season is a good idea too. Cleaning your chimney in the spring clears out odor buildup from a winter of use. That helps your fireplace and chimney smell fresher during the summer when humidity and warm temperatures make fireplace odors more noticeable. For more information, contact a business such as Flue Doctor Chimney Service.