We all enjoy the cozy winter evenings in front of our fireplace, find it irresistible to curl up on to a couch near the fireplace, and lazily relax during the weekend. But something that we don’t think about often is the importance of cleaning a chimney for its smooth functioning. In today’s world, chimneys are not only linked to just a fireplace, but the generic term is used to define a machine that sucks in smoke, oil, odor and fumes from our kitchens, offices, and factories as well. And like all other household amenities, a chimney also requires maintenance periodically.
Let’s face it; the inner lining of a chimney is dark. And to examine a shady area for something dark like ash, dirt, and soot would be a herculean household task. Any commoner would stumble upon doing that and would require expert guidance.
The chimney sweep is thus not a DIY chore, so it’s recommended to hire a chimney inspector from a certified institute to tackle this job. This is because cleaning and inspecting chimneys require a lot more than just sweeping the soot. A clogged or blocked vent loses its efficiency with time, making the need for cleaning it an urgent requirement to bring it back to acceptable working order.
There are a few distinguishable signs to tell that your chimney needs cleaning. Sweeping should be done as per necessary – typically, a 1/8th inch of deposition is formed inside the inner lining of a chimney due to creosote. Typical odors start emanating from the chimney, most likely due to creosote deposition. We must keep in mind that we cannot prevent the formation of creosote if we burn hardwood fuel.
Creosote and dust naturally collect in the flue when the fireplace is used. On prolonged exposure, they lead to chimney fire hazards. Having the chimney swept will steer clear of such risks involving unwanted ignition. Frequent inspection by a chimney inspector will determine if any sweeping or repairs are needed.
The crucial next sign that a chimney inspector checks for are visible signs of tar deposits. In case of using a technology-driven kitchen chimney hanging over a stove, the test is for oil deposits. Sometimes the surface of the kitchen chimney grill feels greasy and remains layered by a lining of lipid. In either case, some of the build-ups need to be extracted by a professional chimney sweep immediately.
The combustion process deposits particulate matters in home chimneys, industry chimneys, and even kitchen chimneys, which weakens the masonry as well as the machinery, causing them to depreciate prematurely.
Your chimney needs your attention on the day with less wind velocity. But, why so? On a windy day, soot dipping back into your hearth is a common site, and your chimney calls for meticulous sweeping.
Soot can collect along the chimney column and can be dislodged by winds or other debris, making blockages worse, leading to a damaged chimney. If your chimney is showing such signs of deterioration, do not think twice before calling a chimney inspector.
A fire needs a constant flow of oxygen to burn properly. If your inglenook is blocked, then the availability of oxygen will be inadequately allowing the fuel to take longer time to ignite and tougher to maintain due to trapping of exhaust gases. Getting your chimney swept will eradicate hindrances affecting airflow into the chimney, vastly improving the capability and safety of the fireplace.
One should inspect the exterior of a chimney as well and make a note of cracks, damages, or any biological invasion.
Whenever there is a concern regarding the performance of a chimney, be it at home, office, kitchen, or industry, it’s prudent to call a chimney inspector straight away. Most chimney sweeps recommend that your chimney needs to be swept at least once a year. But depending on the amount of wood that is used as a fuel, the debris formed, and chimney quality, the number may vary. It should be a routine check-up like one we do when we see a doctor. It should be our goal to clean the chimney when it is required and not just on a certain date that is on the calendar.