WHY SPRING CLEANUP IS WISE
Here is why there is value and it makes good sense to have flues and venting systems attended to in the spring of the year.
2. Damp creosote in the flue has a sour, sickly smell.
Warm weather, rain, high humidity tends to increase the strength of the odor.
It's always there in your chimney, but you don't usually notice it during the heating
season. In winter the draft helps carry the smell away and the flue also stays
drier. But in summer downdrafts (flow reversal of the air in the flue) can send the
odor into the house. Cleaning out the creosote or soot should eliminate this
smell, but many sweeps also use a special deodorizer.
3. Unwelcome visitors should be evicted from chimney and smoke shelf.
Birds, squirrels, raccoons and snakes may be taking shelter there. Migrating
chimney swifts using your flue as a motel will make a stinking mess. Raccoons’
can be dangerous and often carry parasites deadly to humans.(Call an animal
removal service if the sweep is not equipped or licensed for the job.)
4. Next, a chimney cap should be installed to keep out critters, rain and snow.
A cap with a spark arrestor will deter birds and animals, as well as prevent sparks
from flying out onto the roof.
5. Schedule a second visit if your regular appointment time cannot accommodate
all that may be required. Your sweep can schedule a second visit if he finds that
your wood heating system needs additional servicing or some of the problems
mentioned in this article requires his attention.
6. Chimneys should be inspected yearly. Deteriorating mortar and missing or
broken bricks and missing, broken or cracked flue tiles should be replaced. A
harmless looking hairline crack in a tile flue-liner will open up under high
temperatures. Escaping heat and flame could set your house on fire! Sweeps who
scan flues with a camera can provide photos of damage or defects. (When and if
7. Many chimneys need to be relined to be safe. Damage from a chimney fire or
the deterioration over the years may mandate that your flue needs to be
completely relined. High quality flexible stainless steel liners are available for this
purpose through your chimney sweep. Your professional sweep is trained in the
necessary installation techniques.
8. When insurance may cover the cost of lining a chimney. In case of a chimney
fire where the date and time of the fire was witnessed or the fire department was
called and a chimney fire can be determined, your professional sweep can provide
assistance with an inspection and condition report for the insurance company.
9. Many sweeps work with insurance companies on a regular basis. They are
accustomed to supplying documentation of the damage, as well as estimates for
rebuilding, repairing or relining a chimney.
10. Many sweeps are overbooked in the fall. They must turn away customers, or
put them on hold. Don't let this happen to you call early and preferably in the
spring to be safe and not disappointed.
11. A stove or fireplace insert may have been incorrectly installed. An incorrect
installation can be like time bomb, ticking away, threatening your home and
family. The connector pipe may need to be replaced. Sections should be screwed
together so they cannot rattle apart and spill burning creosote onto the floor if
there is a chimney fire. Safety standards from the National Fire Protection
Association require solid-fuel stoves and fireplace inserts to be properly connected
to a stainless steel flue liner. An oversize chimney will not draw properly and is not
legal for your insurance or the fire/building code.
If you have converted to gas as fuel or replaced your furnace with a high or mid-efficiency gas unit, your chimney should be inspected to insure proper venting as this new appliances create a considerable amount of condensation requiring cleaning to prevent possible damage, blockage or the need for a stainless steel liner.
It will also need proper vent pipe installed, something service companies often neglect to do. A gas furnace should never vent into an unlined masonry chimney. Excessive moisture and acids in the flue gases can destroy it in a few short years. In addition, sluggish draft in an oversize flue can cause poisonous carbon monoxide fumes to spill into the house. The installation of a gas furnace should not he left to amateurs or to behind-the-times professionals.