How Often Does a Chimney Need Cleaning?

Short Answer:  When it needs it.

Therein lies the rub.  Who gets to say when it needs it?  Technically any creosote build-up in the chimney puts it at risk for a chimney fire. We’ve been doing this close to 36 years and we’ve seen a chimney catch fire within two weeks of being swept. It can happen if all the right circumstances fall into place.  

Chimney Sweep - Spartanburg SC - Bless your hearth

Reality is though, if one uses their fireplace/chimney regularly, it’s not thought reasonable to require that one should sweep the chimney weekly or monthly or anytime you get a little soot build-up in the flue; so what is one to do?  We choose to defer to the recommendations of the experts.  In this case, we will look to the advice of National Fire Protection Association and Chimney Safety Institute of America.  See an excerpt quoted from their website here:  

Q. How often should I have my chimney swept?


This a tougher question than it sounds. The simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “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.” This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don’t use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be swept at 1/8″ of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system.  This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home. Factory-built fireplaces should be swept when any appreciable buildup occurs. The logic is that the deposit is quite acidic and can shorten the life of the fireplace.”

 

So it appears that what is expected in the chimney sweeping industry (by respected chimney sweeps worldwide) is that chimneys should be inspected annually to find out if they have

  • Creosote build-up
  • Bird nest or debris
  • Other types of deterioration or damage

that would make the chimney unsafe to use.  Then they should be cleaned as needed.

  • If they are prefabricated fireplace chimneys, they should be swept when they have “any appreciable buildup”.
  • If they are masonry chimneys, they should be swept when they have “1/8” of sooty build-up, and….if there is any glaze present.”

So call Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth early in the year, as soon as the burning season ends, to have your chimney inspected by some of the best professionals in the Upstate South Carolina Area.

  • If it needs sweeping, we can take care of that for you.  
  • If it has issues, you’ll have all summer to address them.
  • If there are no issues, you’ll rest easy knowing that you are all set to start using your fireplace anytime you like NEXT Winter season.