Can a Dirty Chimney Cause Health Problems?

The arrival of spring has made it much easier to be in a good mood. During the late winter in a cold-winter state, it often seems as if the end of winter will solve all of our problems. Then springtime comes, and allergies kick in. You start to realize all the things you have to do, from spring cleaning to the exams for that course you’re taking. It doesn’t take long to realize that the arrival of spring has definitely not solved all your problems!

A dirty chimney is often one of those problems, especially if you’ve been using your fireplace consistently all winter long. But when the warm winds start to blow, and all your other springtime activities kick in, you’re less likely to remember that your chimney needs to be swept. Forgetting this maintenance requirement altogether is a surprisingly common occurrence.

But why is period chimney cleaning so important? Are there specific risks presented by a dirty chimney? The answer is yes. Here are two important examples:

The build-up of Creosote in your chimney will take place in any wood burning fireplace. This is a byproduct of the combustion process. It includes tar, wood fibers, gas, vapor, smoke, soot, etc. Over time, this residue builds up on the interior walls of the chimney and gradually begins to undermine the structure. More importantly, this material is highly combustible. That’s why you constantly hear about chimney fires, and the importance of preventing them with regular chimney sweepings. Other recommendations for minimizing Creosote (and thus preventing chimney fires) include burning unseasoned wood, and ensuring that your fireplace has proper ventilation and a good air supply.

Carbon Monoxide

Improper ventilation and Creosote buildup gradually (or quick quickly, in some cases) leads to carbon monoxide risk in your home. There may also be something blocking the chimney, such as the nest of an animal, or the build-up of soot. There may also be damaged components of the chimney mechanism, including the flue. These are all problems that a chimney specialist will be able to explain and solve. With regular chimney maintenance, it’s possible to keep these problems at bay, year after year. Even if you’ve skipped a few years of chimney maintenance, and the cleaning is difficult, there may not be any other significant damage. Scheduling regular visits to clean and inspect the chimney is simply the best way to eliminate chimney-related carbon monoxide risk.

Who to call

Hiring a chimney specialist is just another one of those things a responsible homeowner has to do every year. The cleaning in itself can prevent serious problems from developing, and also identify any repairs that might be an option for you. Most routine chimney cleanings don’t reveal any structural problems – in large part because of those very inspections and cleanings. Staying on top of your chimney’s maintenance needs is a lot better than having them roll over you without notice! There is no shortage of homeowners who have neglected regular chimney maintenance duties until problems became severe. At that point, the repairs become costly. That’s why regular chimney maintenance is so important.

Contact a chimney specialist near you to learn more.