Winter is nearly upon us which means you may want to start thinking about getting your chimney into tip top shape.
Regularly cleaning your chimney will reduce the chances of a fire and increase safety in your home. Remember, even if you don't use your chimney for lighting a fire, it still has as important role to play in your home as it can remove any potentially deadly byproducts, such as creosote and carbon dioxide, from your heating system.
If your chimney is dirty or blocked, air can't flow out properly, which is more of a problem in the cooler months when you will be more likely to spend time indoors.
Check for structural issues
The first step in making sure your chimney is ready for winter is to ensure it is firmly attached to your roof and there are no signs of rust, leaks or water damage.
You may need to hire a cherry picker or scissor lift to reach the roof space safely.
Make sure you choose a still day with little wind to avoid a downdraft, which is when soot and other dangerous gasses from the chimney are swept back into the house.
If you spot any falling leaves or birds' nests in the top of your chimney. these should be removed.
Why do you need to regularly clean your chimney?
Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood and can be potentially dangerous to your household. This can catch on fire if it is not cleaned off regularly.
When you look into the top of your chimney, watch out for any bumps, slick or bubbly surfaces, ridges or scale-like build up as this can indicate high levels of creosote.
You can use a screwdriver to determine if there is an unhealthy level of it in your chimney. Simply scratch along the sides and if the soot is more than 3.7 millimetres thick you will need to clean it out.
Dirty chimneys may also have soot build up. This can result in a drag in upward air flow, causing the smoke to exit though the front of your fireplace rather than up the chimney. This could lead to nasty smoke damage in your home, which maybe pricey!
How to clean your chimney
If you need to clean the flues, it is best to call a professional. However, if you open the flue damper and can see a shaft of light. You can easily give your chimney a clean yourself.
Protect your home with a blanket at the opening of the fireplace as a lot of dust and soot can enter your home from this area.
Then use that cherry picker to get back on the roof where you will need to scrub with a chimney brush - make sure you do not damage the liner.
Once you have finished and the dust has settled, vacuum the fireplace floor to remove any debris.