Does your home need a chimney cleaning?
This is the time of year when our homes are decorated to celebrate the holiday season. The fireplace's hearth and mantle are an integral part of a room. The ambiance of a nice, warm fire burning during the winter months is very inviting!
Growing up, we were accustomed to having a fireplace in the homes we lived in. Once, we even had a 'Ben Franklin' pot belly stove! I never thought about the maintenance, upkeep or cleaning because, my Dad always took care of that. Now, I work for a company that provides one of those services, chimney cleaning.
Not only is cleaning your chimney important and necessary for safety reasons but, for health concerns as well. The buildup of dirt and creosote can block the chimney's flue, enabling the smoke trying to escape to come back into the house. Excessive creosote, an oily black substance, caused by incomplete wood combustion, has a potential to ignite, causing a fire to start in the chimney. As far as health concerns, creosote exposure can cause skin irritation (physical contact can cause rashes and other skin issues), eye irritation and respiratory problems. A very serious health concern is carbon monoxide poisoning. This is a hazardous gas that's odorless, colorless and tasteless and hard to detect. It's caused by an incomplete combustion due to inadequate oxygen to finish oxidation. In this case, it doesn't make it to the carbon dioxide form. Possible health concerns from this: flu-like symptoms and organ issues, such as: brain damage, heart problems or worse, death.
With that being said, it's VERY important to have your fireplace inspected and have the chimney cleaned once a year, more often, if you use your fireplace quite a bit. With the different choices and options of natural wood and packaged products to burn these days, a thorough and complete cleaning of the fireplace and chimney is essential. A drop cloth is placed before getting started, to avoid any soot getting all over. A light or lights are used for better visibility, a vacuum system is used to draw and catch any and all particles that are loosened by the brushes used to 'sweep' the sides of the flue. Another reason to have your chimney cleaned is a potential odor seeping back into the house.