Depending on where you live in the country, you may only end up using your chimney a few months out of the year. You may think that, at some point, you should have someone come out and take a look at your fireplace to make sure everything is in order, but that can often be put towards the back of your mind and eventually forgotten until the next cold season. The dangers of ignoring proper fireplace maintenance build up over time, and as such, they should be properly addressed in order to prevent sudden damage or fires when you least expect them.
In the United States, roughly 25,000 chimney fires are started each year as a result of chimney maintenance neglect. On average, they can cause over $5,000 in damage each time, and put you, your loved ones, and your neighbors in serious danger. Chimney fires are commonly started by a buildup of a substance called creosote, which is a tar-like byproduct of burning wood. If chimneys are clogged, less smoke can escape which causes a buildup of soot and ash, as well as the more flammable creosote. Over time, this buildup will restrict the airflow of your chimney, making it less efficient and at higher risk for chimney fires.
Getting your chimney swept
If you’ve never had your chimney swept before, it’s a fairly straightforward process, but you should have a good idea of what it will be like before you book an appointment. The chimney sweep will most likely lay down some type tarp to protect the floor, but it’s best to move any furniture or other objects away from the opening of your fireplace so that they avoid being stained or otherwise marred by ash and soot.
During the process, the chimney sweep will use a variety of tools, depending on how much soot and creosote has accumulated along the sides of the chimney. If soot is light, they will most likely use a tool that looks like a glorified bottle cleaner, that has a rope and/or a long tube attached to it with a firm brush on the very end. This brush works to dislodge any buildup of soot and creosote. The buildup of creosote is usually measured in three degrees. First and second-degree creosote are usually easy to remove with a simple wire brush, but third-degree creosote (also known as glaze creosote) is a thick, glassy, tar-like substance that usually takes a heavy piece of equipment to remove.
If you have a gas fireplace in your home, you’re not excused from routine maintenance! We recommend having your gas fireplace inspected at least annually, as with any appliance, lack of maintenance and cleaning decreases its longevity.
While the risks associated with creosote buildup are not present with gas fireplaces, debris, leaves, and other gunk often finds its way into vents or the chimney, which can result in bad odors or reduced airflow. Certain parts such as glass or faux logs can wear down over time, tarnishing their appearance and resulting in the need for replacement. Residue can also build up over time from dust and other substances, which may increase the need for a good cleaning.
Pagosa Peak Custom Fireplaces is located in Pagosa Springs, CO and provides a wide variety of maintenance and cleaning services for all types of fireplaces and stoves. Stop by our showroom in Pagosa Springs today or give us a call at 970-264-2006 to arrange cleaning or maintenance services.