Yes, you should have your fireplace cleaned even if you don’t use it often

If you live in Sarasota and have a fireplace, chances are you don’t use it that much. My house, built in 1955, for example, has an old-fashioned masonry fireplace that operates a maximum of five or six times a year. But even if you don’t start a fire very often, experts say it’s still a good idea to have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned regularly, and there’s no better time than fall. , before winter.

Why is cleaning important? To find out, I asked Jeff Curry from Curry’s Chimney Sweeping Inc in Bradenton.

A former firefighter, Curry started his chimney sweeping business 27 years ago in his spare time, and when he retired from the fire department in 2004 he took to chimney cleaning full time. He is a Chimney Safety Institute of America certified chimney sweep, a chimney sweep school graduate, attends annual industry conventions, and participates in online forums where chimney sweeps from across the country share tips and seek advice. .

Here is what he had to say.

What’s the worst that can happen if you don’t clean your fireplace?

When soot, or carbon, and creosote, a wood preservative, build up too heavily inside your chimney, it can ignite.

“When you have a roaring fire,” says Curry, “you can have cracks in the chimney, and you can have a fire in the attic and you can set the house and the roof on fire.”

Even if your home survives a roaring fire, you could lose your entire hearth and chimney. Replacing a masonry chimney will cost you around $ 15,000, while a new prefabricated metal chimney will cost around $ 3,000.

So how often should you have your chimney inspected?

“The National Fire Protection Association recommends that an annual inspection be necessary, but I have people here who only light a fire once a year,” says Curry. “It’s good to have reviewed it periodically.”

Besides cleaning the chimney, what does a chimney sweep look for during an inspection?

Curry says problems can develop that you might not even notice. Birds can nest in chimneys and leave debris, rain can deteriorate parts, and metal parts can start to rust. Also, soot from fireplaces that burn natural gas or propane can be very fine and less obvious to the naked eye, but still needs to be removed.

While inspecting a chimney, Curry examines it from both the roof and the interior of the house.

If you are using wood, which type should you use?

“You want to burn a hardwood like oak or hickory,” says Curry. “Stay away from the pine tree, which will create a lot of creosote buildup, because there is so much resin in the pine tree.”

Curry also recommends burning two to three logs at a time. The hotter the fire, the faster the hot air and smoke will rise up your chimney and out of the house. However, says Curry, “if you’re burning the pre-made logs or the paper logs, you only want to burn one at a time.”

Want to know more about the maintenance of fireplaces and chimneys? Curry recommends visiting the websites of the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Chimney Sweep Guild. To contact Curry, call (941) 755-0002 or (941) 486-1480 or visit his company website.

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