Chimney Sweep Fireplace And Chimney Care Tips

Chimney Sweep Fireplace And Chimney Care Tips

Since autumn officially began last Sunday it was time I had my chimney swept in anticipation of cooler weather and a nice fire.  Mikey and Kim Watson of Ashes B Gone spent about an hour both cleaning my chimney and educating me a bit about fireplace and chimney care.  They did a great job of covering my floor to prevent dirt and damage.  Mikey thoroughly swept out the chimney, inspected it for any deficiencies (and thankfully found none), then vacuumed it out as a final step (see picture).  I was quite impressed.  Following are some questions I asked and what I learned.

How often should your chimney be cleaned out?   

A good gauge is when you’ve burned through ¾ to 1 cord of wood.  Ideally, a chimney should be swept once per year and no less than once every other year.  You never know what has built up or condition issues that have developed over time so it’s important to keep your chimney maintained to avoid chimney fires.  

When is the best time of year to have your chimney swept?  

In the spring when you’re finished building fires for the season.  That way your chimney will be clean without any build-up all summer and into the fall until you’re ready for your first fire of the next season.  However, your chimney can certainly be cleaned any time of year.  

What is it that builds up that has to be swept out? 
Often referred to as soot, it’s important to understand that it’s unused, un-burned fuel that has traveled up the chimney and stuck to the sides.  That’s why you need to clear it out so it doesn’t build up and catch fire within your chimney.  Paper is really bad about causing residue so approved fire-starter materials are recommended in lieu of paper.   

What will happen if I don’t clean out my chimney regularly? 
Besides the risk of the un-burned fuel catching fire, if there is a large amount of residue built up there can be blockage and sometimes chemicals have to be used to loosen and remove it.  It’s so much more manageable to have it cleaned out regularly.  

Sometimes the smoke trickles out the side of the fireplace instead of going up the chimney.  What can I do to prevent that? 
When you're building a fire things like a ceiling fan in operation and HVAC intake when the heater kicks on can draw smoke into the room rather than allowing it to go up the chimney.  So make sure your ceiling fan is off when you start a fire and you might want to turn up the thermostat a bit until the fire gets going.  

What’s the best type of wood to burn? 
Fully cured oak is top of the list for many.  The important thing is to make sure the wood is fully dried out so that there’s no moisture in it to cause smoke or resist catching fire.  Same goes for kindling, which should always be a part of building a fire. Mikey shared he chops his wood in January and lets it cure until around November and that makes for some pretty good fires.   

A few other miscellaneous tips and trivia…
·  Occasionally lightning can strike a chimney unbeknownst to the home owner and cause damage which of course can be a fire hazard.  Hence the need to have your chimney cleaned and checked annually.
·  Cracks in any part of the fire place or chimney should be repaired immediately.
·  There should be approximately 10 feet of clear space between your chimney and any nearby trees, fences, other structures, etc.
·  Using too much wood can damage your fireplace and always use a grate in good working condition to hold the wood.
·  Be sure and close the damper when the chimney is not in use.  An open damper can increase your utility bills any time of year.  The warm air escapes during the winter and the cool air in the summer.  Not good.
·  Be sure all ashes have thoroughly cooled before disposing and dispose of ashes using a metal container to avoid possible fire.  Some people use ashes as fertilizer in gardens and flowerbeds.  

If you’d like to make an appointment to have your chimney swept or have further questions about fireplace and chimney care you can visit the Ashes B Gone website here.  And don't be deterred by the Godley, TX address...they service the DFW Metroplex.  They can clean out your dryer duct, too! 

Sandy Setliff is a Realtor® with JP and Associates REALTORS®.  She specializes in residential real estate sales in McKinney, Allen, Frisco, Anna, Melissa and Van Alstyne, Texas. She can be reached at 214 620 1615/cell, 972 375 9448/office or via email at

Sandy Setliff Headshot
Phone: 214-620-1615
Dated: September 28th 2013
Views: 3,273
About Sandy: Sandy Setliff, a longtime resident of North Texas, specializes in residential real estate sales in N...

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