While it is a good thing to have your chimney cleaned every year before the beginning of the heating season, this may not be the only time that a chimney cleaning service is required. Furthermore, if you do not use your fireplace on a regular basis, you may find that while your chimney needs to be inspected for any signs of a blockage, your chimney may not require a full-blown cleaning every single year. Thankfully, the five signs described below can help you to take the guess work out of this task by easily identifying when it is time to call in a chimney cleaning company.
1. You Hear Animal Sounds
Animals such as birds and squirrels like to make their way inside of chimneys and build their nests. These nests can obstruct the air flow and also increase the risk of a house fire. While it can be difficult to visually see any evidence of animals inside your chimney, you will often be able to detect their presence as the result of scratching and other animal-related sounds.
2. The Room Gets Smokey
As soot and other sediment begins to build up on the walls of your fireplace and chimney, this buildup will narrow the path that smoke has to escape your home. This can result in smoke backing up into your home even when the flue is completely open. This smoke can cause damage to your belongings and compromise the air quality in your home, making it more difficult for you to breathe. That is why it is so important to get your chimney cleaned before using your fireplace again if you encounter this type of issue.
3. You Struggle To Get Or Keep A Fire Going
A fire requires oxygen in order to ignite and to stay lit. If you find that you are struggling to light a fire in your fireplace or that you are having trouble keeping the fire going once it has been started, there is a good chance that these problems are the result of decreased air flow. The most common causes of decreased air flow are buildup from previous fires and the presence of animal nests. Both of these issues will require a professional chimney cleaning to resolve.
4. You Notice A Difference In The Way Your Fire Behaves
Differences in how your fire behaves can also point to buildup or a blockage inside your chimney. For instance, if your fireplace is burning well on one side while struggling to maintain a spark on the other side, this could be a sign of a blockage on one side of the chimney.
5. Your Fireplace Has A Strong Odor When Not Lit
Soot and creosote are the the most common types of deposits left behind in residential fireplaces. These deposits are the natural result of burning wood. When the buildup of these deposits reaches significant levels, you will typically be able to smell them rather easily. In most cases individuals describe the odor as being similar to the smell of a lit fireplace or campfire despite the fact that no actual fire is burning.