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Chimney Cleaning for Better Health

Most people don’t pay much attention to their chimneys – we just get a fire going and let the chimney do its work. But the nature of chimneys makes them potentially problematic where our health is concerned, and this is something you should pay attention to.

Here are some facts.

fireplace cleaning, norwood maChimney cleaning basics

Chimney cleaning, or chimney sweeping, centers primarily on two tasks:

  1. Remove flammable creosote from the flue
  2. Remove drafting obstructions such as leaves, twigs and the nesting materials of small animals

A chimney that’s allowed to harbor excess creosote and obstructions can be both a health and a safety hazard.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

When smoke can’t flow easily up the flue, it may begin backing up into your home. Smoke carries with it unknown amounts of carbon monoxide, which is an invisible, odorless gas that’s potentially harmful to people and pets when inhaled.

Blockages in the chimney flue reduce the amount of air that gets into the firebox to assist in combustion. Wood that burns only partially creates much more smoke than fully engulfed wood. So now, you have more smoke and a smaller passage for it to get through.

Mold and allergens

For mold to grow, it requires a damp, unvented or marginally vented space. Your chimney perfectly fits that requirement. Without regular cleaning (once a year is the standard recommendation), a lot of mold can grow inside your flue and negatively affect the air quality within your home.

Black mold and certain other variants are known to cause serious respiratory problems. Mold removal is a big business because people understand the dangers of living around this substance. Attics, crawl spaces, bathrooms and kitchens all can grow mold. And so can chimneys.


A chimney without a chimney cap will invite all manner of insects (and other pests) into your chimney. Even a secure chimney cap can’t prevent the smallest of insects from getting in. Spiders are a particular concern because they can live in the flue for long periods of time in the “off-season” and find their way into your home.

animals in chimney, quincy maSmall animals

As we mentioned, the nests of birds, squirrels and other small animals can create a drafting obstruction in your flue, which will cause smoke to move inefficiently. Another problem is when animals die inside your chimney.

You would think that if an animal can get into a flue, it can easily get out, but this is not the case. Certain species are known to become trapped inside chimneys and die, which can lead to a serious bug and bacteria invasion as well as horrible odors wafting into your home.

Chimney fires

A full-on chimney fire can be more hazardous to your health than any of the issues listed above. Excess creosote is the cause of the majority of chimney fires each year in the U.S.

Homeowners who schedule annual chimney sweeping services significantly reduce their chances of experiencing a chimney fire, which could put the safety of people and pets at risk as well as do major damage to your chimney and even the entire house.

Above & Beyond Chimney Service of Dedham, MA, provides CSIA-certified chimney sweeping to help you prevent health issues and other issues stemming from a dirty chimney. We also offer licensed chimney inspections and all chimney repair work needed to keep your chimney in tip-top shape.

Speak with a chimney expert today at (781) 383-0415.