Chimney Cleaning Frequency

Having been in the chimney business for so long now, it is hard to keep track of the number of people who ask how frequently

Creosote Problem
This chimney flue system is coated by puffy creosote.

the chimney needs to cleaned. Many people think that it is based on number of uses. Others think that is has to do with whether or not you can stick your head up and see any debris or nesting. Although there are a few ways to gauge how frequently to have the chimney swept, these are not it.

Firewood Log Rach
This log rack holds one cord of wood.

For starters, after having burned through one cord of wood, you’ll know that it is time to get your fireplace swept. This pictured lograck has the dimensions 46″h x 14″d x 87″l and holds one half of a cord of wood.

Another code that sweeps follow is that of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (, which states that after having accumulated 1/4″ of creosote build up the chimney should be swept, but sooner if any glazing occurs. This is a fairly difficult way to determine when the chimney should be swept, but is great if you are new to the home and are unsure about the chimney’s use over the years.

Finally, one last method of judging when the chimney should be swept has been procured from the National Fire Protection Association ( Clause 211 states that “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” This particular code takes into account that, even if your chimney has a stainless steel chimney cap, critters can still damage the cap enough to enter the chimney and fill it with debris that jeopardizes the integrity of your entire home. There also may be other types of deterioration occurring in the flue system. Generally the rule of thumb is to have it inspected before each burning season that you decide to use your fireplace. For the best tools to clean your chimney with, read Chimney Cleaning Tools – Buyers Guide.

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.….Educational Videos….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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