Although fireplaces are wonderful luxuries to have in a home, there are some cases where people simply don’t use them often. Maybe they use them for a few special occasions, but otherwise the fireplace remains cold through most of the year.
Does this mean that regular inspections and maintenance for the chimney are optional? Why invest in professional inspection service if there’s rarely any fire burning in the hearth or smoke wafting up the chimney?
If you’re in a situation where you have a fireplace that you use sparingly, we want to encourage you to still regularly arrange for professional inspections. We’ll explain why below.
The Importance of Chimney Inspections
1. Creosote Buildup
One of the most significant risks associated with infrequently used fireplaces is creosote buildup. Creosote is a highly flammable substance that forms inside a chimney from the incomplete combustion of wood. Even if you only light a few fires a year, you’ll get creosote in the chimney. If left unchecked, this can trigger chimney fires. Regular chimney inspections detect and address creosote buildup before it becomes a serious threat.
An unused fireplace is like putting a big sign on the top of the chimney advertising “ANIMALS: SAFE NEST/LAIR HERE! GOING CHEAP!” Animals like chimney swifts, squirrels, and raccoons (oh, raccoons love chimneys) will try to camp out in the warm protection of an unused chimney. Regular inspections will identify these invaders and remove them.
3. Moisture Damage
Moisture from melting snow is a major threat to chimneys in Minnesota—and it happens whether you use the fireplace or not. This moisture will gradually damage the chimney’s structure, causing problems like cracks in the bricks and mortar. Just a little water getting in cracks means big trouble when that water later freezes and expands! Inspections look closely for moisture damage so it can be addressed.
4. Structural Issues
Your chimney is exposed to the Minnesota elements all around the year that will wear it down. This will lead to loose bricks, cracks in the structure, and damage to the chimney crown. Once again, this happens no matter how often you use the chimney. Regular inspections catch problems early so you can address them before they become major, expensive problems.
How Often Should You Get a Chimney Inspection?
We’ll offer a basic breakdown of when to schedule a chimney inspection, based on frequency of use and the type of fuel burned:
- For wood-burning fireplaces: An annual inspection, even if you use your fireplace infrequently.
- For gas fireplaces: An inspection every one to two years is usually enough.
- For homes with no fireplace use: An inspection every three to five years.
The Bottom Line
The simple answer to the question in the title is a big YES. Chimneys require regular maintenance to ensure they function safely and efficiently. For professional chimney inspection in Minneapolis, MN, reach out to our experienced team. We provide all three levels of chimney inspection as well as whatever repair services you may need.
2nd Generation Chimneys, Inc. serves Minneapolis, St. Paul and the Surrounding Communities. Schedule a chimney inspection with us today.