Q: How often should I get my Chimney Cleaned or Inspected?
A: This is the most common question we receive. The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 states that, "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 takes into account the fact that, though you may not use your fireplace often, there may be deterioration issues or nest in the flue from small animals (i.e. birds, squirrels, etc).
Q: Why does my fireplace smell so bad?
A: What you are smelling are creosote deposits in the chimney. Creosote is a by-product of burning wood. The smell will typically be worse during summertime due to high humidity and your air conditioner being on. Cleaning the chimney will help, but usually won't solve the issue completely. A commercial deodorant can work pretty well, and some people have levels of success with baking soda or even cat litter in the fireplace.
Negative air pressure within the house can cause your fireplace to down-draft, pulling the smell from the creosote into the home. This can also be a sign of water or moisture in the fireplace as the moisture mixes with the creosote and expels a strong odor.
A tight-sealing, top mounted damper will also reduce this air flow coming down the chimney. If the fireplace is functioning properly, there should be no smell when the fireplace is not in use.
Q:Why is my fireplace smoking into my house? What can I do to fix it?
A: This is actually a pretty common problem. In modern homes, where it is air tight, the weather sealing has sealed up the air routes in your home. The fireplace will use up all household air until a negative pressure situation exists. The best thing to do is to provide additional airflow somewhere in the home so the negative pressure problem no longer exists. Another solution is to install a tight-sealing, top mounted damper on the fireplace.
Q:How do I know my chimney got cleaned?
A: A complete chimney sweeping includes the chimney flue, smoke chamber, and smoke shelf. If your Sweep did not clean these, they did not do a complete cleaning.
Be sure to ask the Chimney Sweep for a Stage One Inspection. If he or she does not know what you are talking about, find a Sweep who does.
Ask your Sweep these questions:
* What will you do to clean the chimney? They should be able to give you step by step descriptions of what they will be doing to clean and protect your home.
* Is it soot or creosote? Creosote is highly-flammable and having creosote in your chimney can cause a chimney fire. Soot, on the other hand, is a safe substance as long as it is removed before its accumulation interferes with draft. It is, in most cases, easily brushed away. If your Sweep cannot tell you the difference you should call another service
* What are your credentials? Always verify that your Sweep has Liability Insurance and is Licensed as there are several people who operate without these credentials, and your home is not covered if they are not insured.
Q:What is safe to burn in my fireplace?
A: Only seasoned wood is safe to burn in your fireplace for an air tight wood stove or insert. For Pellet stoves you should only burn wood and corn pellets.