Chimney Cleaning Guide for Homeowners, From Cost to Benefits

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated January 17, 2022
A front view of a  white colonial style house with chimney
Photo: BeeRu / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Cleaning your chimney removes creosote buildup.

  • Fire risk is reduced by chimney cleaning.

  • Clean your chimney once a year in the summer or early fall.

  • Hire a professional chimney sweep for the best results.

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Fireplaces are key to making your home feel cozy and warm when the temperatures drop. While having one in your home is a treat, it also requires some responsibility. You must clean your fireplace and its chimney regularly to keep your family safe and energy bill low. Learn when the best time to clean your chimney is.

Why Clean Your Chimney

Routinely cleaning your chimney prevents home fires. Chimney soot and creosote build up over time as you use your fireplace. Creosote is especially flammable. With enough buildup, it can catch fire and result in a contained chimney fire or engulf your entire home in flames.

Regularly cleaning out your fireplace and chimney will also help it burn hotter and heat more efficiently, which will help lower your heating costs during the winter. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, even one-tenth of an inch of soot can drop the heat transfer efficiency by 50%.

And if you have a wood-burning fireplace, a clean chimney is essential. Blockages can prevent carbon monoxide, a dangerous gas sometimes referred to as the “silent killer,” from escaping. High concentrations can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, with symptoms like fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and even death. 

Cleaning your chimney will help you avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, but you should install a carbon monoxide detector near your fireplace just in case.

How Often to Clean Your Chimney

One of the most essential chimney maintenance tips is to clean it thoroughly at least once a year. Hire a professional chimney sweep for a thorough clean and dust regularly yourself if possible. 

When to Clean Your Chimney

The ideal time to clean your chimney is in the spring, summer, or early fall at the latest. You want to complete it before the temperatures drop so that it’s sparkling clean and ready to take on the fire-burning season without a hiccup.

DIY vs. Hire a Pro

Tackling chimney maintenance on your own isn’t the safest course of action. Because creosote buildup is so dangerous, it’s best to leave thorough chimney cleaning to a trained professional. 

Although we recommend hiring a local chimney sweep to clean your chimney, there are a few things you can do yourself. Between professional cleanings, clean your fireplace and visually inspect it for buildup. Scrape your fireplace poker on the inside of your chimney. If you find a one-eighth-inch layer of buildup, call a pro.

How to Hire a Chimney Sweep

Chimney sweep cleaning a chimney
Photo: gabort71 / Getty Images

You’ll know when to hire a chimney sweep if you notice heavy creosote buildup near your fireplace or if it’s time for your annual clean. 

If you don’t have a chimney sweep already, look for one who is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Start your search by looking for the best chimney sweeps near you and consider asking friends, family members, and neighbors for their personal recommendations to find someone reliable. You can check with the CSIA to see if they’re certified.

Chimney Cleaning Cost

The average chimney cleaning cost is between $130 and $380. Chimney sweeps may charge by the hour or they could offer a flat rate based on the level of cleaning needed. Hourly costs average $65 per hour, while flat rates range from $80 for a basic chimney check up to $5,000 for a thorough inspection and clean.

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