How Often Do You Clean a Chimney

No matter how dedicated and diligent you are when it comes to cleaning every corner of your home, there are some spots that are usually missed or even ignored. One of them is the chimney. 

Cleaning the chimney might not affect your house’s aesthetics or your mood, but it’s a safety concern, so it should be done regularly. When your chimney is filled with soot and buildup, it won’t work properly, and you might be at risk of a fire. So, how often do you clean a chimney?

Having the chimney professionally cleaned and swiped at least once a year is crucial and is recommended by the NFPA. However, you might need to clean your chimney more often if you use it on a regular basis. To know everything about cleaning your chimney and keeping it buildup-free, keep on reading. 

how often to clean chimney

How Often Do You Clean a Chimney

The buildup of creosote can accumulate inside your chimney leading to the formation of a blockage. This blockage affects the ventilation inside your fireplace, so your chimney’s system won’t work properly. The hot gasses can travel through the walls of your house, leading to a fire. 

This is why regular cleaning and maintenance should be part of your schedule if you use a fireplace regularly. The more you use your fireplace, the more you’ll have buildup accumulating inside your chimney. 

Other factors that can affect the amount of buildup include the quality of the fireplace components themselves. 

The blockages inside your chimney can also lead to the accumulation of carbon monoxide, which affects the health of your family and pets. 

If you don’t use your fireplace on a regular basis, then yearly inspection and cleaning will be enough. 

However, even if you invest in a chimney cleaning kit, you still need to hire a professional to clean and inspect every part of your fireplace’s system to replace any broken parts or remove the buildup that reduces the fireplace’s efficiency. 

The chimney and the venting systems should be cleaned more than once a year if you use the fireplace more often. 

This is not something that you want to ignore because the buildup can cause a chimney fire to spread to your house’s foundation and put everyone’s life in danger. 

Can You Clean Your Chimney On Your Own

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Actually, the answer is yes and no. Yes, you can invest in a chimney cleaning kit to remove some of the buildup by getting on the roof with all the safety precautions. 

In this case, you need to protect the interior of your house by setting up plastic tarps to catch the buildup and wearing protective goggles and gloves. 

However, this is not the right way to remove all the blockages from a chimney. 

And even if you clean the creosote, you might not be able to detect if there are any broken parts that might malfunction when you start using your fireplace. 

For the best results, it’s better to hire a professional company to have your chimney cleaned and inspected. 

Should I Clean My Chimney If I Don’t Use It

If you’ve gone without using the fireplace for a few seasons, it’s recommended to have the chimney’s system cleaned and inspected before operating it. 

This inspection will help you detect any defects or broken parts that might affect the safety of your house, even if no cleaning is needed.

There are other hazards that can block the chimney and prevent it from working properly. 

For example, birds, squirrels, and raccoons can all build nests inside your chimney and eventually block the passage that allows the hot gasses to move upwards. 

This is why you need to have the chimney cleaned regularly to remove the debris and keep the passage clear for safety. 

Moreover, if there are animals stuck inside the chimney, cleaning and maintaining it will help remove them without killing them, so they can be later released into the wild. 

When Should You Clean Your Chimney More Often

If you have an older chimney system, you’ll have to pay attention to how it functions more often. Regular cleaning should be more important to you because your chimney might not be working the way it should. 

Some types of wood produce more buildup when they burn! 

For example, softwoods like cedar, pine, and fir cause the rapid buildup of soot and creosote and should be avoided as a regular source of wood for your fireplace. 

It’s best to use hardwood like oak, beech, and ash because they last longer and don’t cause that much smoke. 

Although hardwoods are more difficult to ignite, they produce less smoke and produce less buildup. Using dry and seasoned wood will reduce creosote buildup. 

What is the Best Time to Clean Your Chimney

The best time to clean your chimney is before you need to use it regularly. This means that you can start cleaning it during the late summer or at the beginning of the fall because you won’t need to use it during the warm season. 

It’s also a good idea to clean the chimney after winter when you’ve stopped using it. Regular cleaning will remove all the buildup and blockages, so your chimney will be ready for next winter. 

In all cases, you should never start a fire in your fireplace if you’ve neglected cleaning the chimney for a while. You don’t know what might be inside your chimney or how the system might work, so you need a professional to inspect it. 


Cleaning your chimney shouldn’t be ignored because it guarantees the safety of your property and your family. In general, you should clean the chimney at least once a year to remove the creosote and any blockages that might affect the way it functions. 

If you use the chimney more often or you have an old system, you need to have it cleaned and inspected more frequently. 

It’s best to clean the chimney after winter or during the summer and fall because you don’t need to use it in the hot weather. You can also use hardwood instead of softwood to reduce the amount of creosote. 

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