Your house has a beautiful central chimney to provide you with a little extra warmth during the cold season – but how do you maintain it? Contrary to what a famous Disney movie might make children think, there's no service of singing, dancing chimney sweeps who come by and clean your chimney every so often – when it comes to real chimneys, you have to do a little detective work to determine when your chimneys need cleaning to begin with. So if you're looking for a few easy-to-notice signs that your chimney might need a bit of spring cleaning, regardless of the season, then here's what you need to know.
Your Fires Burn Slowly
When you light the logs, does it take forever to crackle merrily – or does it not crackle very much at all? Two big signs that your chimney needs some cleaning out are that your fires either burn very slowly or very dimly; this is due to the blockage of creosote (more on that below) that's built up in your chimney over the many long nights of keeping a crackling fire burning in front of you. If you're not sure that your fire is slow or dim, try starting a fire in an outdoor fire pit and comparing them; the bigger the difference, the better the chance you need to clean your chimney.
The Creosote is Falling
Creosote is the by-product of burning either logs or coal, so the chances of it coating your chimney are nearly one hundred percent. It's made up of the stuff that doesn't turn into ash when you burn your fuel source, and sticks to the bottom of your fireplace, the floor around it – and, most importantly, the inside of your chimney. If you build up enough creosote, your chimney stops working well, and needs to be cleaned – and once the creosote runs out of places to stick, it can actually fall down in little chunks or scales, giving you a sure sign that it's time for a cleaning.
A Fog Settles In
You might not notice if your house gets a little foggier when you're roasting chestnuts on an open fire, but it's one of the best signs that you need to schedule an appointment with a chimney cleaning service to sweep away the debris. In order to test this, you'll need to start a fire in your fireplace and wait for a bit while it builds up heat. Then, enlist the help of another person (preferably one with vision good enough not to need glasses, which might fog up from the temperature difference from outside to inside) to come in from the outside and look inside your home. If there's smoke anywhere, it'll be pretty obvious to anyone coming in from the outside, and you'll need to pick up the phone to schedule a cleaning.
Contact a service like Excel Chimney & Fireplace Service for more help.