6 signs your chimney needs to be swept

6 Signs That Your Chimney Needs To Be Swept

What’s better than the entire family sitting around the fireplace on a cold evening— swapping funny stories and sipping hot chocolate? The short answer is: no feeling really gets better than that. 

Now, we know that it’s springtime in April and that we’re a long way from the winter cold (most of us are concerned with booking our summer vacations and building those summer tans, that’s for sure). But isn’t it best to make sure that our heaters and chimneys are in tip-top shape for the winter ahead of time, instead of being met with any unpleasant surprises when December rolls around?

To get the most of our fireplace in the winter— or the fall— it’s important that we maintain and clean out our chimneys periodically, and we want to help guide you in all your chimney-sweeping needs. 

Here are 6 signs that your chimney needs to be swept: 

 

1. Weakly burning fire

If you felt like you were struggling to start a fire in your fireplace the last time it was cold, it might be because your chimney is clogged, or that there’s a problem with the fireplace damper. Both these issues can prevent a fire from receiving a sufficient oxygen supply in order to burn properly.

 

2. Oil spots on your fireplace walls

Those oily black spots on your fireplace’s walls are creosote— a tar-like substance. Creosote can build up all the way through the top of your chimney, ultimately blocking the flow of air to and from your fireplace. This lack of regular airflow over time can cause fires to burn irregularly.

 

3. Odors emanating from your fireplace

Creosote has a strong, potent odor similar to that of a campfire, that can be smelled in any area around the fireplace. You might enjoy this particular smell (who doesn’t enjoy the memories of the summer outdoors and s’mores associated with that nostalgic campfire smell?), but it is typically a sign that there is a deadly buildup of creosote in your chimney. This buildup can catch fire in the future, causing terrible damage to your home and all your belongings in it. 

 

4. Animals are inside your chimney

Animals nesting in your chimney (usually unbeknownst to you) can block the airflow and tragically catch on fire while you burn wood in your fireplace. The most commonly found in chimneys are bird nests, usually at the very top— covering the vents. Squirrels also sometimes build nests in chimneys. 

 

5. Smoke isn’t rising up 

If you find that smoke isn’t rising up your chimney the way in which it used to, it may very well be time for you to sweep your chimney. Air should always flow upward and out of the chimney top, but again, a layer of creosote can prevent this from happening. 

6. Soot is falling from the chimney 

Finding chunks of soot or creosote falling onto your wood from the chimney is another sign that there is a creosote buildup problem that needs to be addressed. 

 

These signs are generally quite easy to spot, but it is imperative for the safety of you, your family, and your home that you take the next step and hire a professional chimney sweeper to clean your chimney, ultimately alleviating the risk of potential fire damage in your home in the future. 

 

A Step in Time Chimney Sweeps has been offering chimney cleaning, chimney inspections, and chimney repairs for over 20 years. A Step in Time is currently offering NFPA level 1 chimney inspections at $85 and chimney sweep for open fireplaces at $159. For homeowners, we will come to your home, provide detailed inspection photos, and educate you on state building codes regarding the safety of your fireplace. This service is heavily discounted. We are so confident that you will be impressed with our professionalism, quality of service and knowledge we provide, that you will become our customer for life.

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