Is Your Chimney Up to Snuff? The Scoop on Chimney Cleaning!
Fireplaces are a great addition to any home – between the ambiance they provide to a room and the heat they give off on chilly days – not to mention the great focal point they provide; it’s easy to understand the draw. However, when it comes to fireplace maintenance, out of sight is not out of mind.
It is not uncommon for even the most well-kept of homes to have a hidden dirty secret – and that secret is hidden in the chimney. From creosote buildup to bird nests, there are a variety of hidden treasures left waiting to be discovered. However, the effects of a dirty chimney go behind the shame of hidden dirt – this dirty spot provides a hazard to your home and the safety of your family.
Why Chimney Cleaning is Important?
Since hot air rises, it works to escape through any opening that it can find – leaky window seals, the attic and roofline, chimney stacks, and more. To counteract the escaping hot air, cooler air enters your home through the lower level; the line that divides the hot air from the new cool air is called the Neutral Pressure Plane.
When fireplaces are below this plane, air flows into the home through the chimney. When there is also an upper-level fireplace, there is an effect that causes the air to flow upward through the two units and through the chimneys to exit the structure – but in the process, the air can attract smoke from the above fireplace and pick up smoky odors as it makes its way through the chimney flue.
In addition to the air flow, smoke in itself builds up into debris over time and ash and soot build blockages to your chimney system. When blockages form, the air flowing through your home loses an escape, pulling contaminated air back through your home. When these blockages occur, the smoke loses its escape route causing contamination in your home. This blockage can fuel the fire, causing an accumulation of creosote which is an especially flammable material. Chimney fires can quickly escalate, spreading to the roof or other rooms in your home.
Costs of Chimney Cleaning
Chimney cleaning costs vary based your specific location within the Seattle area as well as the height and slope of your roof.
The higher the roof, typically the higher the cost, as the chimney cleaners may need special equipment, such as enhanced extension ladders, to access your chimney. Additionally, if your chimney is difficult to access due to obstacles or a particularly steep slope, your costs may rise.
The annual costs associated with your chimney cleaning will obviously vary based on the frequency of your cleanings. If you use your fireplace only casually in the cold months, you will likely need to clean it just once before the cold season begins to ensure your chimney is free of creosote buildup from the previous season’s use as well as any nests or remnants left behind from wildlife or trees and leaves that may have caused buildup.
However, if you use your fireplace several times a week all year, you will need to keep careful watch on your chimney to watch for creosote buildup.
Regardless of the frequency or factors of your roof that may sway pricing, Americans report an average cost of $208 – $280 per cleaning.
What Happens if I Don’t Clean my Chimney?
If you do not maintain and clean your chimney, you become vulnerable to potential house fires. Additionally, birds, squirrels, and other critters spend time on your roof and may build nests or other blockages within your chimney system.
Since fire needs airflow to start and to build, if your chimney becomes fully blocked, your fireplace may fail to work all together which could turn into a more costly repair.
By quickly glancing up the chimney, you may see flame or soot marks that seem minimal – but when a trained professional takes a closer look, they will be better able to determine the exact amount of buildup that exists. As a general rule, your chimney should be cleaned whenever there is buildup of 1/8 inch or more – by using this measure as an indication of your cleaning need, you can better prevent a chimney fire.
Keeping your chimney clean is a necessary maintenance task to keep your home clean with proper airflow as well as to maintain its safety. Keeping your chimney clean is easy enough to do with proper oversight, and regular care will keep your Seattle home clean, air pure, and fireplace working flawlessly.
Although watching for signs that your chimney needs cleaning is not difficult, it can be difficult to catch buildup higher up in the stack, as well as to sight blockages that may occur beyond the roof line. Leaving the chimney cleaning and preventative maintenance to a professional is the best way to ensure that you do not overlook potentially damaging problems and that, as a result, your home is safe.
The chimney is a spot in the home that is all too easy to overlook – but given the side effects of neglect, is too important to forget about. Prepare your home for the cold season with a professional chimney cleaning to keep your home’s air flow moving properly, fires beautiful, and family safe.