How often does a Chimney Need to be Cleaned?
Updated: Oct 4, 2021
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), fireplaces need to be cleaned once there is 1/8″ of creosote and/or soot buildup inside the chimney liner. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), all chimneys should be cleaned at least once every year, regardless. So which is right, and does everyone need to get their chimney cleaned and inspected, even if the chimney is hardly used at all? The following information can help you decide what the right answer is for you.
What is involved in a Chimney Cleaning?
A chimney sweep removes creosote, soot, and blockages from chimney liners, fireboxes, smoke chambers, and dampers. Keeping the chimney system clean and free of obstructions is essential for a number of reasons, all of which are related to safety, the operation, or the life of your chimney system. The bottom line is that a chimney which isn’t properly maintained can become a fire hazard and can deteriorate to the point that repairs are extremely costly.
When you burn wood in the fireplace, there is always some amount of creosote that is deposited in the flue lining. But when you use certain types of wood, the buildup is far worse. For instance, untreated wood is full of moisture and doesn’t burn clean. Pine also causes creosote in the flue to build up rapidly, which makes it an undesirable type of wood to burn.
If there is a buildup of creosote in the chimney, it’s possible that the flammable material will catch fire, and it could spread from the chimney to the house. If a glaze appears in the flue in any amount, even less than 1/8”, the CSIA agrees that cleaning shouldn’t wait, because of how highly flammable the substance is.
Another reason creosote is a problem is that it can restrict the draw of the fireplace, which reduces the efficiency of the system.
Why is an annual Chimney Inspection Important