Summer and even fall weather brings a season of celebration here in Minnesota. But while your sweaters and coats are put away, we hope you’ll still think about your fireplace.
Warm weather days offer the perfect time to ensure your chimney and fireplace are winter-ready because we all know Mother Nature is always waiting right around the corner!
In this post from The Construction Group, our chimney repair pros are breaking down everything you need to know about chimney cleaning.
Why Is Chimney Cleaning Important?
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is to fire up their hearth without having their chimney cleaned from one year to the next.
According to air quality experts, chimney fires are responsible for about $125 million in annual property damage, with around 25,000 fires per year starting in chimneys. Most of those fires are caused by a creosote buildup, which can lead to a house fire combined with structural problems in the chimney masonry.
Creosote is a natural byproduct created through the process of burning wood that builds up on the insides of a chimney. When the smoke from a wood-burning fire passes through your chimney, creosote condenses along the inner surface.
This sticky, highly flammable chemical has a tar-like appearance. As little as an eighth of an inch of soot and any amount of visible creosote indicate that your chimney is due for a cleaning.
The Hidden Dangers of Failing to Maintain Your Chimney
During the winter months, your fireplace and chimney should work together to warm your home efficiently. With most households only using their fireplace a few months out of the year, it’s easy to forget or to assume that your fireplace and chimney don’t have to be maintained regularly.
Whether you have gas logs or a wood-burning fireplace, keep it clean and properly maintained. Failing to do so might put you and your family in a hazardous situation.
You Could Experience a Chimney Fire
During the process of burning a fire, your fireplace creates creosote, the tar that sticks to the flue of your chimney as a result of burning wood. Over time, the creosote in your chimney can become combustible, allowing it to reignite later.
If this happens, other combustible chimney components can ignite and threaten your home.
You Could Be Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide
Everyone understands the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in their cars. However, few understand they can get carbon monoxide poisoning in their home caused by a faulty fireplace.
Safeguard your family by ensuring your chimney is inspected for proper ventilation. If the gasses emitted from the fire don’t escape via your chimney, they could boomerang back into your home. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, you could inhale it without realizing it. A working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector are mandatory in most states, including Minnesota.
At The Construction Group, we are happy to inspect your chimney to ensure it’s working as it should and doesn’t have any leaks. If you haven’t had your fireplace and chimney inspected in a few years, then maybe it’s about time to schedule one.
After all, keeping your family safe is priceless!
What Happens During a Chimney Cleaning?
After you decide about the chimney cleaning service for your home, some things should form your expectations when the job starts. You will often get a time when the job will begin, and you may be asked to put away some precious items in the home to avoid damage.
When your chimney cleaning contractor arrives, the first action they are likely to take is to survey your chimney area for broken walls, the extent of dirt/soot in the chimney, and how they will protect your roof before the cleaning starts.
To protect the area of your roof where you have the chimney, they can lay some plastic sheet, rug, or clothing material on your roof to trap the dust from the chimney during cleaning. For deeper cleaning, your chimney sweep may come with a shop vac to help sweep the chimney away.
During cleaning, your chimney cleaning expert will use a heavy metal brush, thick hand glove, goggles, and other protective gear to shield themselves from ash and soot. The cleaning process can start with scraping coating from the flue to the roof or the other way around.
Whichever method is taken, the goal is to have a cleaning that pushes the chimney debris down into the fireplace, where it will be swept away.
Why You Should Hire an Expert for Chimney Cleaning
Although the process above may sound simple, hiring an expert to clean up your chimney is important. Highlighted below are the reasons you should clean your chimney.
Chimney cleaning goes beyond sticking a brush around your chimney to remove soot. That’s why you need an expert who understands the rudiments of deep chimney cleaning.
An expert knows better ways to remove stubborn coats from your chimney without messing up your home with soot and dust.
Hiring a chimney pro will save you lots of time. Proper chimney cleaning takes time to complete. It’s not a jump-in-jump-out affair and not something you’d want to take the whole of your day.
There is a possibility that if you take up the chimney cleaning yourself, you may spend many hours without getting it properly done. But a professional will find a way to complete the job on time.
Access to Quality Tools
Professional chimney cleaners have access to quality tools that may take you time and more money to hire. Apart from having access to quality tools, they know the best ways to handle them without getting injured.
So, chimney cleaning is best left in the hands of professionals who have been in the business for longer.
When to Schedule Chimney Cleaning Services
Your chimney is probably not something you think about often, especially not during the summer when your fireplace and heater aren't in use. However, the chimney needs to be cleaned and inspected regularly and occasionally when repairs come up.
To prevent a chimney fire caused by creosote, the National Fire Protection Association recommends cleaning and inspecting your chimney at least once a year. Summer is a good time to conduct such a routine because it’s not in use and scheduling an inspection is more convenient.
Chimney Inspections & Maintenance
While cleaning your chimney, inspectors will also examine your chimney for any and all problems that arise. Problems with the masonry might be evident, so recommendations for chimney repair might be suggested. Masonry can sometimes crack, creating a structural problem and a fire hazard.
Since your chimney goes through extremes of heat and cold, making it expand and contract, this can cause cracks to occur over time. Such repairs require the service of an experienced and professional contractor using specialized tools and knowledge to repair them quickly and efficiently.
Inspections and maintenance for a chimney are fairly straightforward. Usually, it involves cleaning, perhaps replacing the top cover, and while the contractor is there, they can do a visual inspection and pressure test to check for leaks.
A fireplace needs to be cleaned regularly, depending on how often you use it. If it's part of your heat system that you use daily during the winter, it needs an annual inspection and cleaning, maybe only every other year if you only burn a fire for special occasions.
Your heater's chimney also needs regular inspection, how often depends on the type and age of your heater and is something best discussed with your contractor.
Call a Chimney Inspector If You Experience
Once your chimney is ready, be careful to use the correct fuel to prevent future buildup and minimize your risk of a chimney fire. Only use well-seasoned wood that has been covered and stored off of the ground.
Additionally, avoid the temptation to burn newspapers, garbage, or treated wood.
What to Do About a Chimney Fire
If you hear crackling or popping sounds in your chimney or can identify flames from the top, close the flue immediately and exit the premises before calling 911.
Once everyone is safely outside, grab a garden hose and wet down your roof while you wait for firefighters to arrive on the scene.
Get 5-Star Chimney Cleaning Services in Minnesota
To schedule chimney inspections or other repair services for your Minnesota home, be sure to call the professionals at The Construction Group in Woodbury today at 651-731-5857.
Or you can contact us online to find out more about our masonry services.