If you use a fireplace or a wood-burning stove for heat, then you also have a chimney. Extensive use of a fireplace or wood-burning stove will lead to the quick accumulation of debris inside the chimney. If you do not have this debris cleaned out in a timely manner, then you may inadvertently cause a chimney or house fire. If you are a home improvement or DIY expert, then you may consider cleaning the chimney out on your own. However, this task is probably one that you should not attempt on your own. Here are two main reasons for this:
1. You May Fall off the Roof
The best chimney or stove pipe ventilation can be obtained by installing the chimney correctly. If professional installation was completed, then it is likely that the top of the chimney was installed quite high up on the roof. Proper ventilation and air flow require the stove pipe to sit about two to three feet above the highest point of your roof. If you want to clean out the chimney, you will need to access the roof. If you have a two-story home, this may mean climbing to a height well over 20 feet from the ground. Each story of your home is likely to have at least eight-foot ceilings. While the pitch of the roof will vary from home to home, it will add at least an extra few feet onto this height.
You can die if you fall off your roof when inspecting your chimney. In fact, this happens to professionals on a regular basis, according to the US Department of Labor. Professionals are much more likely to take necessary precautions and follow OSHA guidelines when it comes to safety. Since you are not a professional, you are not trained in safety protocols and are more likely to fall. Falling is the second leading cause of accidental death. Simply put, you should stay off your roof if you are not a trained professional. A chimney cleaning is only going to cost an average of $178, and the most you are likely to pay is about $200. Saving a few hundred dollars is not worth dying over.
2. Creosote Is Dangerous
Chimneys need to be thoroughly cleaned out to remove the creosote that builds inside of them. Creosote is a carbon-based material that sticks to the insides of your chimney pipe. This material is extremely sticky and flammable. The material builds when wood or another type of fuel is not burned completely. The incomplete burning process results in solid materials mixing with gasses and moving up through the chimney. The gasses release out the chimney top, but the solid matter sticks to the inside of the chimney.
Since creosote is thick and sticky, it must be scrubbed off the inside of the chimney. Unfortunately, it can be breathed in quite easily during the cleaning process. According to the CDC, exposure to creosote can cause skin and respiratory irritation. If you are exposed to large amounts, you may experience rash or extreme skin irritation, chemical burns to the eyes, convulsions, kidney issues, confusion, and unconsciousness. Professionals understand the dangers of the material and wear appropriate respirators and other types of safety gear to keep themselves safe.
If you think that it is a good idea to clean your own chimney, then you really should think twice. You will likely expose yourself to some serious dangers. Your local chimney cleaning specialist will understand these dangers and be able to protect himself properly, so make sure to contact a professional when you need an annual chimney cleaning. Find one through a website like http://earlytimeshomesolutions.com.
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