The Importance of Cleaning Your Factory-Built Chimney
People purchase factory-built chimneys because they’re relatively easy to have installed and involve less setup time and cost than building a traditional masonry chimney. While the benefits are clear, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of cleaning your factory-built chimney.
Like all chimneys that serve as a vent for any type of fireplace, factory-built units will operate safely and efficiently only if they receive regular maintenance. This typically includes an inspection by a certified chimney expert, a thorough cleaning using specific equipment designed for this task, and the performance of any necessary repairs.
The danger of a dirty chimney
The purpose of a chimney is to move smoke by-products such as gasses, water vapor, wood particles, tar fog and hydrocarbon out of the fireplace and into the outside air. Over time, these by-products form a substance called creosote, a sticky compound that adheres to the walls of a chimney and is highly combustible.
Fireplace systems, which include the fireplace, the chimney and any chimney connectors, are responsible for the vast majority of house fires in the United States each year. Look at the number of house fires and their causes for the year 2013, as compiled by the Chimney Safety Institute of America:
· Central heating: 800
· Air conditioning: 1,000
· Portable heater: 1,400
· Water heater: 1,500
· Fireplace system: 23,100
Those numbers clearly demonstrate the importance of having a clean fireplace/chimney and operating the system according to the guidelines set down by the makers of these systems.
Is there a difference between factory-built chimneys and traditional chimneys?
The differences between the two types of chimneys are in how they’re built and the materials used to build them. Factory-built chimneys typically are constructed of metal and must stand alone (i.e., can’t be used together with an existing chimney). Compared with masonry chimneys built on-site, pre-fab units have lower maximum heat levels, making it even more important to have them cleaned and inspected regularly.
Cleaning a factory-built chimney
Only a certified chimney technician – often referred to as a chimney sweep – has the tools and training to properly clean a factory-built chimney. The cleaning process involves the removal of creosote and other debris such as leaves, twigs, bird’s nests and small animals that can cause the flow of smoke to be obstructed.
During a chimney inspection, the technician will look for signs of moisture within the chimney structure as well as any damage that needs to be repaired. Most chimney service companies provide repair services along with normal cleaning services.
No matter what kind of chimney or fireplace you have, a certain level of maintenance is required to keep the system running safely and functioning as it was designed to. It’s recommended that homeowners schedule a routine cleaning and inspection of their chimneys once a year.
Chimney Specialists of Highland, Wis., cares about the safety of everyone who enjoys a fireplace in their homes. When you’re looking for the latest and safest new fireplaces that run on wood, gas or pellets, give us a call at (608) 929-4887 to discuss design specifics and your particular heating needs.