Cleaning your fireplace chimney
One of the most important things to remember when you own and use a fireplace is to have your fireplace chimney cleaned out regularly. A fireplace is a lovely thing of romance and charm, but it’s only charming until you get a chimney fire and your house burns down. It isn’t exaggeration, either; unclean fireplace chimneys and stoves are the leading cause of death due to fireplace operation. They rank second only to Christmas tree lights as a leading cause of household fires in winter.
When you burn wood, especially turpentine-rich evergreens like pine, the wood causes soot and creosote to build up inside your fire place chimney. This soot and creosote compound is highly flammable, and often just the heat of the fire below it is sufficient to make it catch fire, to say nothing of the sparks that naturally fly up the chimney or the flames which may lick at it. Once a chimney fire has started, if it’s a large one, it can be almost impossible to put out. Smaller chimney fires are less destructive–although still dangerous–but if you’ve gone more than two or three years without either a fire or a good chimney sweep, you can be sure you’re overdue for a big one.
Be sure to clean your fireplace chimney and stove often!
There are many services available through your local Yellow Pages who will clean your fire-place chimney without charging you an arm and a leg for it. Shop around and compare prices; you’ll rarely go with the first service you contact. If possible, get your friends and neighbors to recommend a good fireplace chimney cleaning service to you. Price is only one consideration; if the service doesn’t remove all the creosote and soot from the chimney and stove, you are as much in danger of a chimney fire as ever.
If you prefer to save money and do it yourself, you can buy a chimney cleaning brush sets at most local home improvement stores. Be careful, though; you must do a thorough job if you want to avoid a chimney fire, and cleaning a chimney involves a great deal of working on your roof. If you are not experienced at working on your roof, you will almost certainly be better off hiring a service to do it for you. But either way, the importance of getting your fireplace chimney cleaned thoroughly at least once a year cannot be overstated.