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Chimney Cleaning Myths Of Which to Be Wary

The Internet is a vital hub of information for just about every subject you can think of, including chimney cleaning. However, several creative and inventive myths are floating around about chimney cleaning that homeowners should be aware of to avoid unexpected chimney repairs or safety issues.

You don’t need to inspect or clean the chimney if you’re not using the fireplace.

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One popular myth circulating for quite some time is that you don’t need to inspect or clean the chimney if you’re fireplace is not in use. Not only is this completely untrue, but it can also lead to some very unpleasant and costly surprises. Even though you may not be using the fireplace, the chimney system is still exposed to external elements. Weather conditions, including the freeze-thaw effect, can cause severe masonry damage allowing water to leak inside that can be destructive to the interior masonry, flue liner, damper, and other components. Also, small animals, pests, and debris can make their way into the chimney causing foul odors. Chimney leaks can also create conditions for mold and bacteria growth that can be harmful to your family.


Burning pine or softwoods creates more creosote.

Another popular myth is that softwoods like pine should be avoided because they create more creosote than hardwoods. However, it’s the moisture content, not the type of wood, that makes more creosote. Properly seasoned wood has less than 20% moisture compared to 60% moisture or more for freshly split wood. Therefore, burning softwoods or hardwoods that have been “seasoned” or dried for at least six months will burn cleaner with significantly less creosote than burning “green” or freshly split woods.

Metal chimney liners don’t require maintenance.

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While metal chimney liners like stainless steel are more durable and easier to maintain than other liners, chimney cleaning is still necessary. That’s because creosote, a natural combustion byproduct, can still build up inside the chimney, including the metal liner. Without regular chimney cleaning, the creosote build-up hardens into a tarry and flammable material. In addition, the high temperatures of a wood-burning fireplace or a hot ember can spark a chimney fire. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), an accumulation of 1/8″ or more of creosote is hazardous and should be removed.

It’s easy to clean the chimney yourself.

Many how-to videos on the Internet can make it appear that chimney cleaning is easy to do yourself. However, there is no substitute for a Certified Chimney Sweep® with extensive knowledge and experience of the entire chimney system. Without professional tools, supplies, and equipment, a homeowner can damage the chimney or liner and may not remove all of the creosote and corrosive residues in the flue.  Also, an inexperienced homeowner may not spot leaks or damage that a professional chimney sweep is trained to identify. A professional chimney sweep does more than clean the chimney. They also ensure your chimney and fireplace are safe to operate.

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