The cold weather is about to roll in, and cozying up to a nice warm fire in your fireplace can be a pleasure. But having a fireplace (and the chimney that goes with it) means that you have some homeowner responsibilities too!
The best plan is to inspect and clean your chimney at least once a year (unless you never use it of course!) Soot and creosote will build up on the flue and walls over time and can be very dangerous if not removed. Creosote is a tarry substance that can be highly flammable. I have witnessed a chimney fire in person at my uncle’s home, and it is scary stuff. Fire department had to be called, but thankfully they were able to put the fire out before any structural damage was done to the house. Inside, the family room was covered in soot and everything had to be professionally cleaned. Yuck.
How often you need to clean your chimney really depends on the type of wood you are burning – softwoods create more creosote than hardwoods. The bottom line is to just be aware and inspect the chimney periodically. Of course you don’t have to do the job yourself, that’s what a good chimney sweep is for!