As with any home maintenance, taking care of your fireplace and chimney adds up, especially if you’re not using your fireplace correctly. Chimney cleanings and repairs are essential to keeping your home safe and your fireplace usable, and the truth is they don’t have to break the bank. But they can add up quickly and result in a high chimney sweep cost if you’re making the wrong choices in how you build a fire and take care of your fireplace.
The Wood You Choose Directly Impacts the Chimney Sweep Cost
When it comes to building a fire, the wood you choose, and what you burn in the fireplace in general, is the most important factor. This is because what you burn directly impacts what you let into your chimney. No matter what you burn, there will be some unburned particles that make their way into your chimney along with the smoke, and this can create creosote. Creosote is a flammable substance that builds up in your chimney in three stages. At each stage, it is more dangerous and difficult to remove, and the more of it there is in your chimney, the more expensive the chimney sweep cost will be, especially if you have a lot of second or third stage creosote.
So why does the type of wood you burn matter? The answer is simple: Wood with a higher moisture content creates more creosote and makes it easier for the latter two stages of it two develop. For this reason, you should only burn seasoned wood, which is wood that has been dried for at least six months. Most wood you buy at the stores is seasoned, but always double check. If you chop your own wood, start doing so well ahead of the winter and fall season so you can let the wood dry months before you need to use them. If you burn wet wood then by the time you have your fireplace and chimney cleaned much more creosote will have developed than if you had only used seasoned wood. In fact, wet wood is so bad for your fireplace that if you use it, your fireplace and chimney will likely become dangerously dirty to the point that you’ll need to have your chimney cleaned once every couple of months, rather than once a year, which will increase the chimney sweep costs.
Don’t Burn Too Much Wood
Even if you restrict yourself to seasoned wood, you need to be careful how you build your fires. Most importantly, don’t go crazy overloading your fireplace. A huge fire may seem like a good idea, but it can easily become too much for your chimney to handle. With an overloaded fireplace, your chimney walls can become damaged and start to crack, which is expensive to fix and can increase the chimney sweep cost. A fire that is too large can also get out of control, and the last thing you want to do is start a chimney fire or one that will spread to your home.
Along with being careful about how much wood you use, it’s also important not to use lighter fluids. Not only can they make it easier for your fire to get out of control, but can produce dangerous gases that shouldn’t be present in your home.
Clean Your Fireplace Regularly
Just because you call a professional once a year to clean your fireplace and chimney doesn’t mean you can neglect it the rest of the time. Doing so can make it dirtier faster and create more damage that will all add to the chimney sweep cost at the end of the year.
One important aspect of maintaining your fireplace is regularly cleaning out the ashes. While you always want about a one-inch layer of ash at the bottom of your fireplace during the cold season when you use it, you need to clean it out when that layer becomes any thicker. Too much ash can damage parts of your fireplace like the grate. Additionally, once the winter ends and you’re done using your fireplace, it’s essential to clean out all the ash. Ash present in an unused fireplace can draw in moisture, which is never good for a fireplace or chimney and will result in damage that will add to the chimney sweep cost.
If you follow this advice, you’ll never have to worry about your fireplace and chimney becoming so damaged and dirty that cleanings create a higher chimney sweep cost than you imagined. Ready for your annual cleaning? Call us or make an appointment by filling out our online form today.