Silver Spring chimney sweep

DC Fireplace Sweep

Why Do You Need Fireplace Cleaning?

As we approach the holiday season, you’re probably excited to entertain family and guests in front of your fireplace. But a dirty fireplace can take you from being the “host with the most” to the “host with the most…soot.” In general, fireplace cleaning allows your fireplace to operate more efficiently, and also look more attractive. But most importantly, regular fireplace cleaning (in addition to regular chimney cleaning) will greatly reduce your risk for chimney fires.

Fireplace Cleaning Prevents Chimney Fires

When you use your fireplace, the smoke from the fire condenses into a tar-like substance called creosote. Routine fireplace cleaning will prevent a dangerous level of soot, ash, and creosote accumulation. Not only does this make your fireplace look more attractive, but it also helps to prevent chimney fires.

Chimney fires are often caused when too much dirt builds up in your chimney interior. Chimney fires can be extremely damaging to your chimney and home, and they can also injure you or your family members. Although some chimney fires involve large flames and leaping cinders, you should also be wary of slow-burning but equally dangerous sleeper fires. Sleeper fires generally don’t have enough air or fuel to appear as visible flames, but they can still reach very high temperatures and cause a lot of damage to your chimney.

Cleaning Your Fireplace

Sweeping and dusting your fireplace hearth area after each use will help you prevent residue buildup in your fireplace, along with making your fireplace look tidier. It’s important to wait for the embers to completely die down before you attempt to clean your fireplace. Additionally, avoid using chemical cleaners on your fireplace. Even after they dry, certain cleaners can leave a flammable residue on the surface of your fireplace.

Depending on what type of fireplace you have, you also might have to empty or vacuum your ash pit, in addition to giving your firebox walls a good scrubbing. Then wipe down your firescreen or glass enclosure to remove smoke stains and make your fireplace look more presentable.

To further prevent residue buildup in your fireplace, we recommend burning seasoned firewood. This wood has a lower moisture content, which allows it to burn cleaner and more efficiently. Wood with a high moisture content causes more smoke and therefore more creosote—increasing your risk for a chimney fire.

Do I Need Professional Fireplace Cleaning?

While we recommend taking the basic cleaning steps mentioned above to maintain your fireplace, you should also schedule yearly fireplace cleaning and chimney cleaning services with a professional chimney sweep company. In general, you should call for chimney cleaning when soot builds-up to 1/8 inch, or when you notice a glaze on the flue. Cleaning the fireplace should ideally come at a time when you do not expect to use it for a while, as in the warm summer months, to remove ash, soot and smoke build-up. But if you haven’t had your yearly fireplace cleaning, chimney cleaning, or chimney inspection, schedule it now before you pile another winter’s worth of soot on top of last season’s buildup. If you need fireplace cleaning in the DC area, contact Capitol Chimney Service today.

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