If you’re lucky enough to live in a house or apartment with its own fireplace, we hope you’re not taking its safety for granted.
Just moving in? You should get both an inspection and a chimney sweep. In rented units, this should be taken care of by the landlord, but it’s worth double-checking the date of the last inspection.
Creosote builds up in a chimney over time, and must be removed. Once build-up reaches 1/8 of an inch thick, have it swept out. Chimneys need to be inspected even if you heat only with gas, as bird nests and other obstructions can decrease functionality.
You’ll also want to check for flue or firebox defects. When the flue or dampers don’t work properly, you should address those issues before using the fireplace again. If you notice any smoking around the fireplace, it could indicate a number of problems, some of them fixed easily by opening the damper or burning the wood farther back, and some of them needing professional attention.
If you want to inspect your fireplace yourself, here is a simple step-by-step, but we recommend that you then turn to a professional for any definitive conclusions or cleaning. And for Pete’s sake be careful on a ladder or roof.
If you want to really nerd out about this, The Chimney Safety Institute of America is a real thing with a lot of information.