A fireplace or a wood stove is a great way to warm your house. They also help give your home a cozy, comforting atmosphere. However, in order to burn a fire safely, you have to keep your chimney clean. Even if you have a metal insert in your chimney, it's important to clean it regularly. Otherwise, soot and a sticky substance called creosote can build up inside the chimney, leading to an excess of smoke, or even a fire in the chimney. You may have heard certain old wive's tales about simple, easy ways to clean your chimney without having it professionally swept. Unfortunately, most of them are not the best ways to get your chimney cleaned.
Take a look at a few do-it-yourself chimney cleaning myths that you probably shouldn't try.
Burning Orange Peels
One commonly repeated myth is that burning orange peels in your fireplace can clean out your chimney. The myth probably originated because of the cleaning properties of orange oil. You can find orange oil in any number of household cleaners, and it really does help cut through grease and dirt.
However, that doesn't mean that it can clean your chimney. If you burn orange peels in your fireplace, the heat of the fire will destroy any orange oil in the peels long before it reaches your chimney. Burning the orange peels will most likely result in some orange-scented smoke, but it won't do anything to remove the soot from the inside of your chimney.
Another variation of this myth suggests that you dry potato peels and burn them in your fireplace. Supposedly, this softens the creosote and helps remove it from the inside of your chimney. Unfortunately, there's no evidence that this actually works. You're better off saving the peels for a compost pile.
Burning Only Certain Kinds of Wood
Some people will tell you that you don't need to clean your chimney if you stick only to hard wood or seasoned wood. The reasoning behind this myth is that these woods burn cleanly, because they produce less smoke.
It's true that softer woods and woods that contain moisture, like green wood, produce more smoke. However, it's not true that hard woods or seasoned woods burn cleanly. Nothing burns cleanly – everything produces some amount of smoke. While it may be true you'll need to clean the chimney less often if you stick only to properly seasoned hardwood, there's no getting out of some amount of routine cleanings.
Alarmingly, some homeowners believe they can clean out their chimneys by deliberately starting a chimney fire. In theory, it's possible that you could melt the creosote in your chimney by heating it to a high temperature, but you can also burn your home down by allowing a chimney fire to start.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimney fires can be explosive. Not only can they make loud cracking, popping, or rumbling noises, they can cause flames to shoot out of the chimney. As you can imagine, this can be very dangerous to your property, as well as to any properties nearby.
Even if it doesn't cause a house fire, a chimney fire can do significant damage to your chimney. The heat can cause a masonry chimney to crack or a metal flue to warp and collapse. Hot creosote can also damage your roof and any television antennae or satellite dish on your roof. It's not worth the risk to your home just to save on the cost of a professional chimney cleaning.
The truth is, professional chimney cleaning services have trained professionals who have experience with all kinds of chimneys and the correct tools for the job. Don't waste time on dubious do-it-yourself cleaning methods. Have a professional ensure your chimney is safe and functional before you light your next fire.
Visit sites like http://www.earlytimeshomesolutions.com to find a local chimney cleaner near you.