Do All Chimney Flues Need Cleaning and Inspection?
If you have a wood-burning fireplace or a wood-burning stove, you have a wonderful home heating option to help take the chill off winter evenings and take some of the bite out of your regular utility bill. Modern wood fireplaces and stoves (and their chimney flues/stove pipes) are built to last and work hard, but over time they can lose some of their operational efficiency and even become unsafe if you neglect to schedule regular cleaning and maintenance.
Even heating appliances that run on gas won’t run forever in top shape without a little TLC. Gas burns cleaner than wood and doesn’t leave large amounts of deposits in the vent pipe, but even these highly efficient units need professional attention on a regular basis.
Every fire-safety agency in the U.S. recommends that wood-burning fireplaces and stoves have their vent systems professionally cleaned on an annual basis. The primary reason is to remove the buildup of creosote.
Any time wood burns, the smoke carries a byproduct called creosote, which is a tar-like substance that’s flammable and difficult to remove from a chimney flue. It doesn’t take many fires to add a sufficient amount of this substance to cause a chimney fire. Only a professional with the correct tools and training is qualified to safely remove creosote from a chimney flue or stove vent pipe.
Another reason to have your wood-burning fireplace or stove inspected annually is to remove the various debris that can infiltrate the system and impede air flow. What kinds of things can get into a chimney?
- Nests built by squirrels, birds and other small animals
- The small animals themselves when they die – many critters get into a chimney and, unfortunately, can’t get back out
- Leaves and twigs from nearby trees
- All manner of dust and debris particles that fill the air on windy days
An experienced chimney sweep can remove these obstructions within a flue or pipe, allowing air and smoke during a fire to exhaust properly.
Gas stoves and fireplaces don’t need the intense cleaning that wood-burning appliances need, but some attention is necessary. Gas does leave a residue that should be cleaned periodically. Gas units also need to be regularly inspected to ensure that all fittings are tight and in good working order to prevent the danger of a gas leak. The damper on both gas and wood appliances needs to be inspected and occasionally cleaned or repaired (or replaced) to make sure it’s creating a tight seal to prevent air exchange between the outdoors and the inside of the home when the unit isn’t in use.
Finally, as with wood-burning appliances, all gas units with a vent system need to be inspected for debris that can lead to an obstruction.
When it’s time for a thorough inspection and cleaning, the experts at Chimney Solutions of Alpharetta, Georgia, are standing by. We have the tools, equipment and experience to keep your wood or gas home heating appliance running safely and with the highest efficiency all season long. Give us a call at (770) 255-1300.