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Fireplaces are cozy and warm, but need to be maintained.

Warming your toes by the fire on a chilly Fall evening or a cold Winter night is wonderful, but can also be very dangerous with a dirty chimney. Take a look at this article I found and make sure you call a professional before you throw another log on the fire. 

Everything you need to know about prepping your fireplace and chimney for the winter. by: Karen B. Gibbs

How often should a chimney be inspected?

Every year. New wood-burning installations such as fireplaces or wood-burning stoves should be checked midway through the first heating season to confirm everything is working properly.

How often should a chimney be cleaned?

Cleaning should be done as necessary — normally when there’s a minimum 1/8-inch of deposit in the chimney. An annual inspection will determine if any sweeping or repairs are needed.

In some cases, it’s necessary to sweep more than once a year, especially if the operator, the fuel or the venting system are not properly matched.

Why get a chimney inspected and cleaned in the first place?

  1. The combustion process deposits an acidic material that weakens masonry or metal chimneys, causing them to deteriorate prematurely.
  2. Significant buildup of creosote, a flammable material resulting from incomplete combustion, may catch fire and spread to the attic and other areas of the home.
  3. If a chimney is used infrequently, critters and birds can collect and nest there, blocking the chimney. Leaves, twigs, pine cones and branches can obstruct the chimney, too.
  4. High winds or driving rain can also damage chimneys. CSIA recommends that, as a general rule, a chimney should have a rain cap to keep out animals and water as these are the primary reasons chimneys fail.

What should a professional chimney cleaning include? 

  1. Sweeping the fireplace, checking the firebox, liners, smoke chamber and flue, chimney exterior and inspecting the appliance for proper clearances.
  2. Recommendations for proper operation or replacement of equipment and necessary repairs to equipment or structure.
  3. A video inspection. It may mean an additional cost, but it could detect hidden damage

    How much should it cost? 

    According to Andy Klotz of Angie’s List, a standard chimney inspection costs about $100 to $250, depending on roof accessibility and the type of chimney inspected. Some chimney sweeps waive inspection fees if cleaning or repair work is done.

    Chimney cleanings typically cost $100 to $350, according to Klotz, depending on special equipment needed or complications, like animals — which may be living or dead — in the chimney.

    How do I select a qualified chimney sweep?

  4. 1.Hire CSIA Certified chimney sweeps and verify that the certification is active. For more information, go online or call CSIA at 317.837.5362. 2.

  5. 2. Ask for references and warranty/guarantees for the work provided.

  6. 3. Ask for proof of insurance (at least $300,000), and verify with the insurer that the policy is current.

  7. What to do for other chimneys and heat sources in the home

  8. Wood-burning stoves also have flues and chimneys that need a yearly inspection. If the stove is being operated ideally, you will find a gray ash as the predominant residue. However, if there’s shiny build-up on the inside of the door, it’s an indication that the fire is being burned much too low.

    Low-burning fires produce an even greater accumulation of creosote on the chimney. But don’t be so quick to burn hotter until the chimney is swept, warns Eldridge. That’s because turning up the heat when there’s an accumulation of creosote in the chimney could cause a fire.

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