A fireplace is one of those features of a house that adds style to your house and provides an excellent functional tool. In fact, a fireplace is one of the amenities that homeowners look for in a home because of their functionality and the look they help achieve in a room.
However, a fireplace also comes with certain needs, especially for those homeowners who put the fireplace to use. For example, you cannot simply build and burn fires in your fireplace and not clean up afterward. Like most parts of your home, the fireplace requires maintenance and some good old TLC to keep it functional and maintain a safe home.
A chimney sweep is needed prevention and maintenance that will keep your fireplace in great shape. So when is the best time to do a sweep and how can you go about doing it? Read on to find out.
What is a Chimney Sweep?
There are several different parts to a fireplace that allow it to work well and burn nice hot fires. The chimney is an integral part since it allows for gases to come out of the fire and escape out into the exterior of the house.
In exchange, the chimney pulls in air from outside and brings it into the fire, which is what allows for the fire to start. Sometimes, people refer to the entire chimney as the flue, while other times, the flue can refer to an opening in the chimney that allows for those gases to exit.
In fact, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the chimney is the most important part of the fireplace since it allows for your home’s air exchange to occur, without any major safety hazards that can occur.
Why Get a Chimney Sweep?
The first reason why somebody would have to get their chimney swept is purely for the functionality of the fireplace. A chimney that has been swept is one that will work better, longer and in a healthier way. When a chimney becomes blocked for a variety of reasons, it becomes a health hazard to those who are in the house. Imagine a blocked tube.
Nothing would be able to go in or come out. If your chimney is blocked or clogged, that means that the gases that come out of the fire when it starts to burn cannot escape through the chimney and outside of the home.
Those gases can then backfire and come into your house. Imagine you’re sitting enjoying a nice cozy fire when noxious fumes start coming out the fireplace and seeping into the air around you because they have nowhere else to go. It certainly wouldn’t be healthy for any person.
What is Creosote?
Another important and essential reason that people hire a professional to do a chimney sweep is that creosote can form inside of the chimney and be detrimental. Creosote is a sick, black colored, tar-like material. It’s a byproduct of the combust the process.
The gases that burn off of a fire are released into the chimney and part of those gases then stick to the wall. A small amount of creosote is completely normal and naturally occurs from any plant or organic matter that burns. However, when creosote starts to develop more than it should, it’s usually due to restricted airflow in the chimney.
This then begins a dangerous cycle. The restricted airflow in the chimney will contribute to a greater amount of creosote to form, depositing on the sides of the chimney. The added creosote on the walls of the chimney or the liner then causes more of a restriction in the air flow, which means that more creosote starts to form.
Since creosote can be a dangerous substance due to its high flammability, it’s imperative to get it taken care of before it reaches a severe level.
Who Can Perform a Chimney Sweep?
Just like anything on the internet, there are always a ton of reputable companies and websites that give homeowners directions on how to perform their own chimney sweep. However, the chimney is not something to be messed with since it’s an integral part of not only a fireplace but of a home’s structure.
For that reason, it only makes sense to rely on a trained professional who has a reputation for doing excellent work and who is experienced in chimneys and chimney sweeps. These are the people who will have the right equipment and will ensure that all possible problems are identified and remedied.
When is the Right Time To Get a Sweep Done?
According to the National Fire Protection Association chimneys and other devices in which fires are started need to be inspected at least once a year. This means that homeowners should be diligent in scheduling a chimney sweep or at least an inspection once a year if not more for those who use their fireplaces often.
If you’re able to measure the creosote yourself, you’ll want to schedule a sweep when it’s a 1/8″ thick, and avoid using the fireplace completely if it’s a 1/4″ thick.
You would really be much better off scheduling one beforehand If you’re hoping to get an inspection and sweep done in the winter. Winter is the roughest time for fireplaces and chimneys.
First of all, people tend to use the fireplace more often in the winter due to the weather. However, the snow and heavy precipitation that can occur in the fall and winter can lead to a greater chance of an obstruction due to fallen branches, birds nests, and other natural occurrences.
In addition, once the weather starts to get cooler in October, you very well may want to start to use the fireplace. If there is a problem that requires a repair of some sort, you may not be able to use your fireplace until it’s fixed.
In other words, an inspection or sweep can be done in the winter, but you may miss out on using your wonderful fireplace if there is a problem. The best thing to do is to schedule an inspection in the fall to ensure that it’s fully functioning by the time you sit down to enjoy it.
A fireplace is a wonderful thing for any home. It allows you to have cozy, warm nights and romantic moments of peace. In exchange for what a fireplace offers, however, you need to ensure that you take care of it just like any other amenity in your home. For that reason, it makes sense to schedule your inspection and sweep before winter so that you’re able to use it as much as possible.
When it comes to chimney inspection and sweeping, the #1 company in Chicago and Suburbs is Vertical Chimney Care. We have helped thousands of homeowners with cleaning out the flue of the chimney and removing the creosote. In return, many homeowners have recommended our services to their friends and family. Contact us to speak to a specialist today.