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Fireplaces can be a great addition to any home, but it’s important to make sure that they are properly maintained. Do you need to clean a fireplace?
Fireplaces should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year. Burning wood produces ash, creosote, soot, and other debris that builds up in the chimney over time and becomes a hazard. By keeping chimneys and fireplaces clean, you prevent the risk of home fires while also avoiding health problems.
Fireplaces are meant to get dirty as time goes on and people don’t realise how much a fireplace does need to be cleaned.
Do you have to clean a fireplace?
You do have to clean a fireplace at least once a year – more often if you are using it regularly. If a fireplace isn’t properly cleaned and maintained, it can become a hazard and lead to a house fire. It’s important to clean out the fireplace ashes and remaining burnt wood to reduce the chances of unwanted fire catching. This is especially the case for open fireplaces.
When wood is burned in a fireplace, soot, and creosote build up inside the chimney. Creosote is a black, heavy, and sticky substance. This is produced when wood particles, smoke, tar, and debris combine with water vapour during a fire. Creosote sticks to the chimney lining and is extremely flammable, making it a hazard to start a chimney fire. It’s important to clean a fireplace and chimney to remove the creosote and reduce the risk of your chimney catching fire.
You also need to clean a fireplace to get rid of fire dust and other particles that can become a health hazard. If you don’t clean your fireplace, dangerous particles from the fireplace can end up airborne and float around your house. They can be inhaled and stick to your lungs causing respiratory problems. This is why it’s important to clean your fireplace regularly and always wear a mask when doing so.
How do you know your fireplace or chimney needs cleaning?
One of the biggest ways to know if your fireplace needs cleaning is if it’s difficult to start and maintain a fire. This is a sign that your chimney may be clogged and the airflow throughout the chimney and fireplace is restricted. Other signs your fireplace needs cleaning include:
- Your fireplace walls have oily marks, indicating that creosote is present.
- When you burn the wood, smoke fills the room even if the flue is open.
- Fire doesn’t burn as well as it once did or burns oddly.
- The fireplace smells like a campfire even when it isn’t lit.
- You hear animal noises like birds and squirrels coming from your chimney or there are animal nests inside the chimney.
- Your fireplace damper is black, again indicating creosote build-up.
Any of these signs should be taken as an indication that you need to clean your fireplace. Make sure you have the right fireplace cleaning gear, including a P2 respirator mask to protect yourself while cleaning.
Do you need to clean a wood-burning fireplace?
Cleaning a wood-burning fireplace is necessary to remove soot, built-up creosote, and blockages from your firebox, chimney liner, smoke chamber, and damper. Creosote is a highly flammable, sticky substance that builds up inside a chimney when the wood is burned. Even a small accumulation of creosote has the potential to start a chimney fire.
When a woodburning fireplace is inspected and cleaned regularly, it results in a safer operation of the heating system, minimising the chances of housefires. Different types of wood can produce different amounts of creosote when they’re burned. So, if you’re burning a range of different wood in a wood-burning fireplace, you need to regularly check the fireplace. In winter, you may find that you need to clean your fireplace once or twice a month depending on how often you’re using your fireplace.
Do you have to clean a fireplace if you don’t use it?
If you don’t use your fireplace at all or have minimal use of your fireplace, you don’t need to get it cleaned regularly. However, it’s still advised to get your fireplace and chimney inspected annually. Inspection will help you identify any issues or defects that require action even though cleaning is not needed.
When a fireplace isn’t used often, animals often nest in the chimney above. You should be regularly checking for animals that may be nesting in your chimney and fireplace. They can become a danger to the household or a hazard if you do decide to use your fireplace.
So, regularly check your fireplace and perform maintenance a couple of times a year. But if you don’t use a fireplace, you only really have to clean it once a year. Make sure you have the right protective chimney sweeping clothes when you decide it’s time to clean your fireplace and chimney!
How often should you clean ashes out of a fireplace?
If you are regularly using your fireplace, you should clean ashes out of the fireplace once a week. This will most likely be the case during the winter seasons. But if you don’t use your fireplace multiple times a week, you can clean ashes once a month or every few months. There are some types of wood that produce more ash than others. The type of wood you use can also determine how often you should clean ashes out of a fireplace.
A good way to think about cleaning fireplace ashes is that you should have a 1-inch layer of ash on the bottom of the fireplace. This layer of ash helps create more heat to fuel your fire without posing a threat of starting an unwanted fire.
Can a dirty fireplace make you sick?
Aside from increasing the risk of a house fire, a dirty fireplace can make you and your loved ones sick. If the chimney and fireplace are not properly cleaned, it can negatively impact your health by causing respiratory problems and irritation.
A build-up of creosote in a dirty chimney can cause irritation to your skin. It can also cause a burning sensation in your eyes that can end up needing medical attention. Inhaling creosote and other bad particles from a dirty fireplace can impact your breathing. This can result in developing respiratory problems and is especially bad for people with asthma or other lung issues.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a big risk of being around a dirty fireplace. This is a colourless and odourless gas that can’t easily be detected. Carbon monoxide poisoning has symptoms similar to the flu, starting with some fatigue, nausea and headaches. Over time, carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to heart problems and brain damage. So, it’s important to clean your fireplace and keep your house air fresh!