If you are like most homeowners, you might not think twice before you fire up your computer, check out a few online tutorials, and give that complicated home maintenance project a shot on your own. Unfortunately, some tasks, such as chimney cleaning, are much more crucial and dangerous than others. Here are two great reasons to have your chimney cleaned regularly by an expert chimney sweep:
1: Regular Cleaning Can Uncover Serious Structural Issues
That sooty chimney might not seem dangerous, but unfortunately, that dirt might be hiding a lot more than you think. Over time, chimneys can become unstable because of internal damage, which can cause them to fall over or collapse during earthquakes. In fact, chimney collapses are the single most common form of earthquake damage in the state of California, where earthquakes run rampant. However, regular cleanings might uncover these problems, so that you can keep your chimney stable:
- Damaged Mortar: Unlike solid bricks, which typically last a lifetime, the mortar that holds them together only lasts about 25 years. As mortar starts to fail, it can damage the joints between bricks, weakening the entire structure.
- Spalling: If moisture soaks into bricks, it can freeze and expand, making the surface flake away. This damage, referred to as spalling, can be unsightly and dangerous. If one side of your chimney contains spalled brick and the other side doesn't, the weak side might fail. Spalled brick fragments can also make their way into rain gutters, clogging downspouts and causing moisture damage.
- Rusted Flues: Another chimney problem that can spell trouble for your home is rust damage to your chimney flue. If moisture makes its way down your chimney, it can cause your firebox or flue to rust and develop holes. Unfortunately, over time, these holes can allow heat to enter areas that aren't protected by brick, sparking house fires.
To prevent these types of issues, experts recommend having your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year. However, pay attention to your chimney throughout the year so that you can spot and report new issues. Look for heat accumulation around the walls near your chimney, broken bricks, and signs of moisture damage. You might feel silly inspecting your chimney so carefully, but it could keep those bricks upright for the long haul.
2: Chimney Cleaning Can Be Dangerous
Cartoons might be jam-packed with segments about people popping in and out of chimneys to sweep them clean, but that doesn't mean that you should try it on your own. Believe it or not, chimneys are incredibly tight, dangerous spaces, and you could actually die if you try to explore this foreign territory.
In fact, in the olden days, chimney sweeps would hire small boys to scale down chimneys and sweep away debris. Unfortunately, these amateur sweeps faced fatigue, dangerous creosote deposits, and tight turns, which often led to an untimely—and ultimately preventable—death. Unfortunately, chimney-related deaths aren't just a thing of the past. A doctor in California died in 2010 after she tried to hop down her ex-boyfriend's chimney to break into his house. Her decomposing body was found three days later stuck in the flue.
The fact of the matter is that chimneys are dangerous, and cleaning them by yourself isn't recommended. Although it might seem easy to poke your head in and wipe the area clean, chimneys are often smaller than they look from the outside. To ward off problems, always hire an expert who can clean your chimney with the right tools. By using high-powered lights, infrared thermometers, and carefully designed metal tools, experts can scrape away debris and keep your chimney functional.
By hiring a professional chimney sweep, you might be able to sit back and relax—without worrying about the problems that dirty chimney might cause in the future. For more information, contact a local chimney cleaning company like Early Times Home Solutions.