There is no steadfast rule about how often you should get your chimney flue cleaned. However we will try and explain to you in this article how to check your chimney to see if it needs cleaning. It is essential that you do this because a clean chimney greatly reduces the risk of a chimney fire.
As mentioned there is no hard and fast rule about how often you should have someone in to clean your chimney, such as having it done annually or after one hundred and fifty uses.
Largely the problem occurs when wood does not burn completely and creosote forms. If you have a smoky fire with not enough oxygen then unburned tar vapours are emitted, which can condense and stick to the inside of your flue. When this happens there is a chance that it could lead to a chimney fire.
In order to reduce the build up of creosote you need to provide adequate combustion air because this helps to get a hot and clean burning fire.
You can look for creosote yourself and there are some simple steps to follow:
• Ensure that there is no downdraft from your chimney. If you find that there is simply open a door or window until the airflow is reversed. The easiest way to check is to tape tissue paper to the fireplace and watch how it moves.
• Wear goggles and a dust mask and get a torch, along with your poker, and simply scratch the black surface located above the smoke chamber. The groove that you have scratched into the creosote should be paper thin. If this is the case then no cleaning of your chimney is needed yet. If the groove is around an eighth of an inch thick then we advise that you should look into booking an appointment for a professional to come to your property to clean your chimney. If however the creosote is around a quarter of an inch thick then you should not use your fireplace again until you have had it cleaned. We say this because there is a strong possibility that you could have a chimney fire.
• Shine the torch near the top of the firebox, around the damper and the smoke chamber. We recommend that you check your flue, especially if your chimney is located outside because creosote builds up quickly on outside chimneys because of the lower temperatures.
There are different types of creosote.
1. Feather light grey, brown or black soot. This is the easiest form of creosote to remove.
2. Black granular creosote. This can be removed fairly easily but will need a stiff chimney brush.
3. Road Tar Consistency. This creosote is a lot harder to remove and will need stiff brushes, scrapers and power rotary whips.
4. Shiny Glazed Coating. This form of creosote is the most deadly of them all and is virtually impossible to remove from the flue.
It is possible to remove creosote yourself but we recommend that you call in the professionals who are certified. The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps is an excellent place to start because you want to ensure that the chimney sweep that comes to your property does more than simply push a brush up your chimney. Chimney sweeps need to be knowledgeable about building codes and can identify the first signs of deterioration or venting problems in your chimney.
They should also be able to advise you about the condition of your chimney. It is recommended that you should have your chimney, vents and fireplaces inspected annually for peace of mind for you and your family. We recommend this because having your chimney thoroughly inspected greatly reduces the risks of chimney fires and also reduces the risks of house fires. For the sake of around £100 you can feel safe in the knowledge that your chimney is in fine working order and will not cause a fire within your home which could potentially be fatal for you and your family.