When Did You Last Clean Your Chimney?

As winter approaches, many of us are dreaming of cozy nights spent next to the fire. Although it's easy to ignore throughout the year, your fireplace could be the source of major disaster if not properly maintained. Before you light your first burn of the season, be sure to take the proper precautions by having your chimney inspected!

When's the last time you cleaned your chimney? For many of us, the answer is likely long enough ago to not remember for sure. It might not seem like a big deal to clean the chimney, but every year there are 22,000 house fires that originate in a chimney or fireplace. Protect your home and the people in it by getting an inspection!

The enemies of a safe chimney are soot and creosote, byproducts of burning wood. To the untrained eye, it can be difficult to tell whether these have built up on the inside of your chimney. For this reason, it's generally better to hire a pro to do an inspection. The frequency with which you should have your chimney cleaned obviously depends on how much you use it, but the average person should shoot for an inspection at least every few years. 

In most inspections, the inspector will visually examine the top and bottom of the chimney and fireplace for soot and creosote build-up, as well as any damage to the masonry. A more intense inspection involves using a camera to examine the entire length of the chimney. This type of check should be considered when buying a house or if a problem is suspected, but isn't usually necessary during regular maintenance.

Typically, chimney inspections cost between $100 and $300, but the price can fluctuate depending on seasonal demand. Rather than wait for the fall when everyone wants a chimney inspection, consider scheduling one during the spring or summer. Some professionals include the cleaning with the cost of the inspection, while others will charge an additional fee.

If you're the type of person who likes to DIY, you can clean your chimney on your own. Buying all the necessary equipment will cost somewhere around $50-$200, and you will be able to reuse it each year. When performing the cleaning, be sure to place a heavy sheet or other covering over the fireplace to prevent the fine dust from covering everything in your house!