Whether you use your fireplace once or 100 times per year, knowing when it needs to be swept can be a mystery. While there is no magic formula to indicate precisely when it is time to have your chimney swept, there are a number of guidelines advising a general timeline of chimney maintenance.

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The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends having the chimney swept at least once per year. This is recommended for all homes and fireplace types regardless of how often they are used. In fact, fireplaces that are used infrequently may be in most need of a sweeping because homeowners may not notice performance problems that indicate larger chimney issues.

Likewise, the National Fire Protection Agency advises that “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” The combination of an annual sweeping and inspection can give homeowners the peace of mind they need to enjoy using their fireplace the rest of the year.

Signs You Need a Chimney Cleaning

While annual maintenance is recommended for all homeowners, there are several signs that your chimney is ready to be swept. Below are four signs its time to call the chimney sweep.

  1. Heavy use. Fireplaces and stoves that are used frequently – especially those that are used as a primary heat source – may need to be swept more than once during a burning season. According to the CSIA, chimneys should be swept any time there is 1/8th of an inch of accumulation of soot. This typically occurs after a full cord of wood has been burned. If you are using more than a full cord of wood during a single burning season, consider scheduling two chimney sweep appointments.
  2. Fireplace is inactive. If it has been several months – or years – since you last used your fireplace, a good cleaning may be in order. Inactive fireplaces are particularly susceptible to blockages from debris or animal entry; sweeping can remove any chimney blockages before the fireplace is used, reducing the risk of a chimney fire and improving efficiency.
  3. Buying or selling. Whether you are preparing to put your house on the market or just purchased a new home, make chimney sweeping a part of the buying and selling process. Sellers can have the chimney swept and inspected before listing to provide additional information – and peace of mind – to buyers; this also gives you the chance to fix any necessary repairs before the closing period. New buyers may also want to have their chimneys swept before using the fireplace for the first time, particularly if the home was idle for a long period of time.
  4. Performance problems. Smoking issues, decreased efficiency, strange odors, and more can all indicate a problem with the chimney. A chimney sweeping and an inspection done by a certified chimney sweep can help uncover the root of many fireplace performance problems.

While your oven may be self-cleaning, your fireplace is not. Because of this, it is important to work with a CSIA certified chimney sweep each year to sweep and inspect your chimney system. To schedule your next chimney sweeping appointment contact the expert staff at Coopertown Services today!