Do I need a chimney sweep? It depends, of course.
Fewer and fewer houses are built these days with wood-burning fire places, but there are still millions of homes that have the capability and that means millions of owners wondering about maintenance for fireplaces and chimneys.
Poorly maintained chimneys and fireplaces lead to house fires every year, especially in older homes where owners haven’t paid much attention to their chimneys over the years and suddenly decide a warm fire sounds great on a cold night.
Some say you should have a professional chimney sweep service your home every year, but that just isn’t true if you’re one of those who rarely uses the fireplace or even only occasionally burns a fire. If you use your fireplace a lot, especially as one of the primary heat sources for your home, you definitely should have it serviced once a year or more.
The amount of use is really what dictates the danger level when it comes to main purpose of hiring a chimney sweep, which is to remove creosote, a dark, sticky substance that sticks to the walls and damper of a fireplace and chimney and can be flammable. If you don’t use your fireplace much and you have had it cleaned in the past, you probably don’t need to have a chimney sweep service it every year. A more realistic approach is calling for professional service every 2-3 years or even longer, again, depending on usage.
One note of caution. Even if you don’t use your fireplace and chimney much, you should always check your system for debris and blockages before starting a fire. Chimneys are places where some species of birds like to make nests. With that in mind, it’s also not a bad idea to install some sort of mesh cover over your chimney to prevent birds or squirrels or other animals from entering to explore.
Use caution, check your system thoroughly before use and make sure fires are out before you go to sleep at night. Have your chimney serviced when appropriate based on usage. Those rules will go along way toward keeping you safe.