Chimney Repair

6 Signs You Need Chimney Cleaning

After prolonged use, eventually, your fireplace will need to be cleaned. Here’s how to tell if you need a chimney cleaning and the steps you can take to clean it out. 

Now that the colder weather is finally here, you’ll be ready to start using your fireplace. It’s perfect in the colder weather to stay warm and enjoy the ambiance of a roaring fire as you relax. However, like everything else in your house, your chimney needs maintenance.

Here’s how to tell if you need chimney cleaning and how to go about it.

1. You’re Struggling To Get A Fire Going

When you try and start a fire in your fireplace, what kind of results are you getting? If you’re finding it hard to get a fire to stay lit, that’s a sign that you may need to clean your fireplace.

This happens when the chimney is clogged. If this is happening, your fireplace isn’t getting enough oxygen to allow a fire to burn. As such, you’ll need to have the chimney cleaned to get the fire going again.

This can also be a sign that the fireplace damper is damaged or malfunctioning. In this case, you’ll need to get an expert to make repairs.

2. Oily Spots On The Fireplace Walls

When you’re looking in your fireplace, are you seeing black oily spots on the walls? This is called creosote, and it will create problems for you. If you see it here, it’s probably spread up to the top of the chimney. This will need to be cleaned before you can use the fireplace.

3. Animal Nests In The Chimney 

This is a common problem, as many different animals find the chimney an excellent place to nest. Birds commonly create nests at the tops of chimneys, while squirrels also find them a good place to call home.

This isn’t good news for you, as those nests can catch fire if you light a fire beneath them, or they can block airflow. That’s common with bird nests, as they’re often placed over the vents. If this happens, your home is at risk of fire damage.

These nests need to be removed before the chimney is cleaned. That will stop the risk of fire and protect the nesting animals from injury.

4. Smoke Making Its Way Into The Room

When you light a fire, are you seeing smoke coming into the room rather than going up the chimney itself? That’s a sign that there isn’t enough airflow up the chimney, thanks to creosote or other blockages. You need this to be cleaned before you can use your fireplace again.

5. Odors From The Fireplace

One sign you need chimney cleaning is if odors are coming from it. You may not think that it’s a problem, as it often smells like a campfire. Some may even think it’s normal.

However, if you smell this, it’s important that you have the fireplace cleaned right away. It’s usually a sign that creosote is building up in the chimney.

6. Soot Is Falling Down Your Chimney 

When you light a fire, you may start seeing soot falling down the chimney and onto the logs you’re using. This usually falls in clumps, so you should be able to spot it. This is another sign that there are blockages in your chimney, so it needs to be cleaned right away.

The Importance Of Chimney Cleaning

You may not realize that your chimney is something that should be cleaned. However, if you neglect to do this, it can have severe consequences for you.

Firstly, if the chimney isn’t cleaned, it won’t allow you to light an effective fire. Without proper airflow, it can’t let logs burn and adequately warm your home, which isn’t ideal.

The problem is, a dirty and blocked chimney is dangerous. It’ll allow smoke into the room, which is harmful to you to breathe in. Plus, that blocked fireplace can start fires in your home. It’s vital that you don’t allow it to get that dirty, as you want to reduce the risk of fire as much as possible.

How Often Should You Clean A Chimney?

The NFPA recommends that you clean your chimney about once a year to properly remove blockages and allow proper airflow. The timing of cleaning is important, too. Usually, you’ll want to do it during the late summer or early fall. This is before you’ll want to use the fireplace so that you can start the colder months with a clean fireplace.

How Is Chimney Cleaning Performed?

How do you clean out a chimney? In most cases, a chimney cleaner will use a long-handled brush, which has either metal or plastic bristles depending on the lining of the fireplace. These are used to brush the flue from top to bottom, dislodging soot, creosote, and any other dirt that’s hiding in there.

There are guides on how to do this yourself, but it’s usually better to have an expert handle it for you. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, you’re going to have to get up on your roof to clean the flue, and that’s going to be a dangerous job in and of itself. You may not feel safe doing that, but the experts are well trained in doing this. Plus, they have all the right equipment, so you know they’re safe.

They’ll have other safety equipment and knowledge that will keep you safe, too. For example, they will usually run a shop vac from your sealed fireplace to the outside in order to clean up the dirt that they dislodge from your chimney. This ensures that you won’t find soot in your home from cleaning.

It will be more expensive to hire cleaners rather than do the cleaning yourself, but it’s usually a much better idea overall. They will clean the chimney quickly, cleanly, and effectively. They also provide other services such as chimney flashing repair or chimney cap replacement.


It’s so important to perform chimney cleaning and keep it safe to use. If you spot any of these signs, then you’ll need to do chimney cleaning as quickly as possible. Call on the experts to handle this for you, as they will do the best possible job.


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