Fireplaces are essential for New Jersey residents, especially now that winter is coming. Sometimes, homeowners are hesitant to use their chimneys for fear of having a fire. However, chimney fires can usually be prevented by homeowners having their chimneys regularly inspected and maintained. If you have a chimney, here are some important safety guidelines, as well as what’s involved in a typical professional chimney inspection and cleaning service for New Jersey homeowners.
The Problem with Creosote
Most fires that begin in chimneys and fireplaces are caused by creosote. As wood burns in a fireplace, the process of combustion produces creosote.
This stinky, bi-product accumulates in your chimney or your flue pipe, which is an opening in your chimney used to transmit exhaust gases from your fireplace. Creosote is extremely combustible and can only be removed by having your chimney cleaned on a regular basis.
Chimney Inspection Guidelines
- Never climb a steep roof or go up on your roof if your house has more than one story. Instead, using binoculars, check to see if there are tree limbs or other obstructions near or above your chimney. Also, see if there’s any debris or bird nests on your chimney cap.
- Be sure there are no missing or crumbling bricks and mortar on your chimney.
- Ensure that your chimney rises two feet or more from the place where it departs from the roof.
What to Expect from a Professional Chimney Sweeper
Because chimney inspection and cleaning is dangerous for the average homeowner, it’s best to have the job done professionally. A professional chimney sweep will thoroughly examine both the interior and exterior of your chimney to see if there’s any deterioration, damage or combustible buildup that could be unsafe. For example, a professional chimney sweep will check:
- Chimney liners
- The smoke chamber
- The firebox
- Your fireplace—A good chimney sweep uses protective materials such as blankets so that soot and ashes don’t contact your furniture and flooring.
How Often Should Your Chimney Be Cleaned?
If you use your fireplace for only one day a week for just a few hours on extremely cold days, perhaps you can have a cleaning about every two or three years. On the other hand, it’s still safer to have yearly chimney inspections and cleanings, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
An annual chimney inspection and cleaning is especially critical for homeowners who burn wood for 40 hours or longer during cold weather. Also, your chimney may need to be cleaned if you see soot pouring down whenever you open or shut your damper.
Considerations and Warnings
- Failing to have your chimney regularly inspected and cleaned can result in costly repairs or even fire damage.
- Don’t have your chimney cleaned on a windy day as doing so can result in what’s known as a downdraft, which sweeps in creosote, soot and other hazardous gasses into your home.
- Never burn wood that’s wet.
- Consider that cooler fires produce more soot. Therefore, use only wood that has been dried or seasoned or a year or longer.
- Woods that burn hotter include those such as ash, maple, beech and oak, while softer woods are fir and pine.
- Don’t burn wood pellets.
At A1 Everlast, we want to free you of the responsibility and concerns that come along with chimney cleaning and maintenance. Allow our affable contractors to ensure your chimney is safe and ready for winter use so that you and your family can enjoy the satisfying warmth of your home’s fireplace. Contact us today for chimney cleaning in NJ and have A1 Everlast free up your fireplace!