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.  

Why is it SO HARD to get an appointment BEFORE Thanksgiving (and now Christmas)?

That’s another REALLY good question! There’s a couple of really good reasons.
Supply and Demand: The demand for services during the Winter season usually exceeds the supply of qualified technicians to perform the needed services. Kinda like trying to get your air conditioner fixed in July. The second? Quality: Premium companies usually have the longer wait lists. Word gets around.


Regular users (weekly fires throughout the Winter season):

Why is it SO HARD to get an appointment BEFORE Thanksgiving (and now Christmas) - Spartanburg SC - Bless Your HearthGet your service done IN THE SPRING right after the burning season is complete. You may have a short wait, even then, if you choose to book with a company that has a good reputation and has been around long enough to have a solid repeat clientele base. However, it’s a cinch that getting it done at the END of the burning season will have you ready to go when you want to use it the NEXT winter – no waiting.

Holiday (Thanksgiving/Christmas) users:

Call to make your appointment NO LATER THAN Labor Day. The longer you wait to call for an appointment, the longer you will wait for an appointment. It’s a fact of life. With the premium companies, their procrastinator clients (the ones who don’t remember to get it done in the Spring) start calling in AUGUST because they know the drill. Truth is: by October you likely can’t get a definite appointment until close to Christmas – if you’re lucky.

Home Sales/Houses under Contract:

This is a hard one. There’s ALWAYS a limited window for the inspections to take place. The best thing to do is call AS SOON AS THE CONTRACT IS SIGNED and get on the waiting list and be as flexible as possible. Most professional companies will work hard to take advantage of any schedule changes that will allow them to get you worked in as quickly as possible — if you give them enough lead time. I know we do. It helps tremendously if we can have 2 to 3 weeks lead time during the Winter season. Spring and Summer are much easier to accommodate short notice.
• Note to Buyers: It’s important to get this done if your purchase is contingent on having a working fireplace. This is especially important if there has EVER been a wood stove vented though a fireplace or into a masonry chimney. Reference: regarding Level 2 Inspections.

• Note to Sellers: Be as flexible as possible in providing access. While it might be scary, not knowing what will show up, professional companies know the difference between normal wear and tear and actual damage or construction defects that can impact usability.

Worst Case Scenario:

Pick the company you prefer to work with based on quality, training and experience. Take their first available appointment. Professional companies will work hard to get you moved sooner when they have pop-up openings due to schedule shifts. They are usually worth the wait.

Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth is proud to be one of those premium professional companies. Call our friendly office staff (864-682-5422) or email ( to set an appointment for your annual chimney service.