Many homeowners often ask when they need to call a chimney sweep. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends annual cleanings and inspections. However, if you are burning wood in the fireplace more frequently, you will need additional chimney cleanings. If it’s been more than a year since your last chimney cleaning or you notice any one or more of the following signs, it’s time to call a chimney sweep for help.
Water Inside or Around the Fireplace
Anytime you notice water inside or around the fireplace, it must be investigated to determine the source before more significant damage occurs. The chimney sweep will perform a level 1 visual inspection of the chimney, including the damper, flashing, chimney crown, and masonry. In some cases, a level 3 inspection is necessary when the technician needs to remove certain components to gain entry to an inaccessible portion of the chimney to locate and repair the water leak.
Smelling Odors Coming from the Fireplace
When the humid air mixes with the soot, creosote, and other decaying organic material in the flue, it can cause unpleasant odors in your home. It’s also a sign that it’s time to hire a chimney sweep to clean the chimney. A thorough cleaning will eliminate the foul odors.
Hearing Small Animals Inside the Chimney
Whether it’s finding a warm and dry place to rest in the winter or escaping predators in the spring, small animals like birds and raccoons may hide in the chimney. They typically enter the flue through a broken or missing chimney cap.
Hearing scratching, thumping, and squealing noises, especially at night, are some of the signs that you may have small animals in the chimney. It is best to call a chimney sweep for help to avoid injuring yourself or the animal. The chimney sweep will safely and humanely remove the animals and replace the chimney cap to keep animals and pests out of the flue.
Spotting Dark, Tarry Material in the Chimney
After burning several fires without sweeping the chimney, you may notice that soot and a dark, tarry, and crusty material called creosote are starting to cover the interior walls, damper, and other parts of the chimney. It may also smell like burnt wood. In particular, creosote is especially dangerous because, in this stage, it is a highly flammable substance. It is also challenging to remove and will require the assistance of a chimney sweep. The chimney sweep has professional tools and supplies to remove the creosote safely and efficiently. Removing the creosote will significantly reduce the risk of a fire.
Smokey or Inefficient Fires
Burning smokey or inefficient fires in the fireplace is a sign that it’s time to contact your chimney sweep. It could be that the wood is green or unseasoned. Unseasoned firewood has high moisture content and will cause smokier and inefficient fires. It could also be a more severe problem like a drafting issue or cracks in the masonry. The chimney sweep will conduct a thorough inspection and recommend solutions that will fix the problem to keep your home and family safe.