A clogged chimney is a dangerous chimney. You may be able to determine if there’s an obstruction in your chimney, or you may need a certified chimney sweep to make this determination, but in either case, a clogged chimney must be addressed immediately
Blockages in chimneys most commonly result from either an excessive buildup of creosote and soot or various debris such as leaves, twigs and small animal nests. If you notice more of a smoky odor than usual, or if you see that any kind of debris is falling into the fireplace, it’s likely the chimney is obstructed to some degree.
Why a clogged chimney is dangerous
- Chimney fire. Creosote is a sticky, highly flammable substance created by smoke. Even small amounts of it can ignite, starting a fire in the chimney. Some chimney fires start and then extinguish quickly, often without the homeowner even knowing about it. When enough creosote is present to impede air flow through the chimney, the fire can be catastrophic. Add in the easy-burning tinder made up of foreign debris, and you can imagine the results.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning. When smoke is unable to exit from the chimney, it will back up into the house, carrying carbon monoxide (CO) with it. People can smell smoke, but they can’t smell – or see – carbon monoxide. Remember: it doesn’t take huge billows of smoke to bring enough CO into the house to cause severe problems. CO poisoning symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, confusion, breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness and possibly death.
How to keep chimneys from becoming obstructed
If you’re running your chimney without a chimney cap, having one installed is the first step toward preventing obstructions. Chimney caps sit securely on the top of the chimney and are designed to prevent both water and debris from getting in. With a good chimney cap on a clean chimney, any future obstructions can be narrowed down to excess creosote and soot or some kind of structural damage inside the chimney.
The next step in preventing obstructions is to have your chimney professionally cleaned once a year by a trained chimney sweep. These technicians have the tools, equipment and knowledge to remove any level of creosote/soot buildup and make the chimney safe to use.
Maintaining a chimney that is safe and efficient normally isn’t a job most homeowners can do properly on their own. In the case of obstructions, certain types of leaking and structural damage, you often can spot the signs that point toward problems. Fixing these problems, however, is a job only for skilled technicians who know what it takes for the fireplace system to run safely and correctly year-round.
Homeowners throughout the greater Indianapolis IN, area count on Chimney Solutions for a full menu of chimney cleaning, inspection, maintenance and repair services. If it’s time your chimney had a professional touch, give us a call at (317) 757-6979.