Recognizing the importance of chimney maintenance, a growing number of condominium associations are requiring members to arrange for an annual inspection of each chimney inside the unit.
There is no single answer for how often a chimney should be cleaned. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that chimneys be inspected at least once a year and cleaned as necessary.
The required cleaning frequency will depend on amount of use, the type of installation, the type of fuel, and the burning habits of the homeowner. Chimneys should be cleaned when accumulations of soot and creosote approach or exceed 1/4 inch. Accumulations of glaze in excess of 1/8 inch should be removed. Frequent, at least annual, inspections are the only way to know when the chimney requires cleaning. We employ a variety of cleaning techniques to remove chimney deposits. The method chosen or recommended for your chimney will depend on the type of deposits. Several cleaning methods are described below:
This is the standard or normal cleaning method and involves the use of brushes to clean the chimney walls. A powerful, well filtered vacuum is used to prevent soot and creosote from entering the home. This type of cleaning is effective for soot and ordinary creosote deposits but has little effect on glaze deposits.
Mechanical cleaning involves the use of wire brushes, plastic cables or special chains rotated at high speed by an electric motor. Mechanical cleaning is often employed to remove hard creosote or glaze deposits.
Some cases where it is impossible to sweep the chimney by Standard or Mechanical sweeping it is necessary to use chemicals that help loosen and dissolve heavy creosote and glaze deposit. These cases are rare but necessary in some situations.