Company Blog

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.  

Certified Chimney Technicians Can Make All the Difference

The idea of paying someone to sweep your fireplace and chimney can be tough to accept, especially with the countless other items and services that seem more urgent. It might make more sense to you to invest your hard-earned paychecks on fresh food for the week, new outfits for the kids to wear to school, or that visit to the car mechanic you have been putting off. Of course, these investments are important and deserve your attention too, but do not misjudge the importance of proper chimney care. Failure to correctly maintain your chimney can cost you big time in the long run.


CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps When you look for the best chimney specialist in your area, consider paying a few extra dollars for a serviceperson who is qualified. Hiring a technician with a formal certification in their field is akin to hiring a guaranteed expert. This choice will determine how much time, money and hassle you save in the future.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America offers nationally recognized certification for chimney sweep specialists. Just as you want your children’s teachers to be certified or your car mechanic to know what he is doing, you should expect your chimney sweep to be a complete expert as well. Although a noncertified technician could potentially do an adequate job of sweeping your chimney, you can never know for sure. By taking this unnecessary risk, you are putting the health of your family and the safety of your home in danger.

A badly swept chimney can cause several serious problems. For example, an obstruction caused by animals or debris may not be completely removed. This continued blockage can result in improper ventilation, which in turn can cause smoke to backup into the house and even cause carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition, a noncertified chimney sweep may not be adequately trained in the removal of creosote buildup. This tarlike product of burning wood builds up in the flue of the chimney over time. It is highly flammable, so it can start an unintentional chimney fire if not cleared properly. Creosote can also cause health issues, like lung cancer and birth defects in fetuses, so clearing the chimney of the toxic substance is imperative.

Aside from the physical act of cleaning out the chimney, a certified sweep will also be able to spot any structural defects in the chimney. Issues like water damage, a missing or damaged chimney crown, or a broken damper can be spotted easily by a trained expert.

If you want to hire a certified technician to help keep your home safe, get in touch with a professional and ask for proof of certification. If you live in the area of upstate South Carolina, contact Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps for a professional consultation.