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Chimney repairs and cleaning are a very important part of enjoying a blazing fire in your fireplace. Anytime there is too much smoke there could be a fire. But when you use a diligent maintenance schedule for your chimney, the smoke and fire will stay in their proper places. For the safety and security of your home and family you should examine your chimney regularly.

When you use a chimney often it will get dirty, just as the bricks can become loose with age and weather. Flues on a chimney that is used often can become blocked or in some cases, cracked. If you use your chimney often you should clean the chimney at least once a year. If you burn soft wood in your fireplace it should be cleaned no less than twice a year. Burning wood creates a residue called creosote. This is a sticky black substance that is carried by the smoke and deposited in your chimney. Creosote will reduce the ability of the flue to draw off smoke. Since it is flammable, when it builds up in your chimney it can cause a fire. In most cases a chimney fire will spread to the roof of your house or other houses adjacent to yours. So, even though cleaning a chimney is a dirty, tedious job it is necessary for your safety.

Climbing on the roof of a house is dangerous no matter what reason you may have. In most cases, calling a professional is safer. When a chimney cleaner comes to work on your chimney he will block off all flue openings into the house and then work the soot down the chimney where he can vacuum it away. If you decide to clean your own chimney it will be necessary for you to use the same procedure. You can purchase a special long handled wire brush for most local stores that handle stoves. These brushes come in all sizes that will fit any flue. To measure your flue reach up the hearth beyond the damper or in the case of a wood stove reach into the flue opening. When you have any doubts about the size of you flue always buy a brush that is too large. The bristles can then be trimmed back to fit the flue. Each flue should be swept out thoroughly with the flue brush. Disassemble any metal stove pipe and brush it out with a round wire brush made to fit. Once you have finished this you should remove the coverings that are taped around each flue opening and vacuum all the soot away. Start with the highest opening and work down so that any loose soot will fall to a lower opening that is still closed off.

Inspect you chimney in every area that is visible including inside your home. In some cases a chimney will run through two or more floors of your house and even into the attic. Use a helper to shine a very bright light up the chimney or burn damp rags in the fireplace while you check the entire structure right to the attic. Any time you see light or smoke coming through the structure you have a leak. You will need mortar to repair these areas or possibly to replace the bricks. Many of the newer chimney flues are built with a ceramic flue lining. This type of flue offers greater safety since the creosote soot does not stick as readily. When your chimney is more than 50 years old you may have no flue lining at all. In this case your fireplace is unsafe and a mason should be hired to either add a lining or lower a prefabricated metal chimney inside your existing chimney.