It’s easy to forget maintenance some fixtures, especially if they’re on the outside of your house…all the way up on the roof—no matter how attentive you are when it comes to cleaning your home. So, if you haven’t already, add your often-overlooked chimney to your spring cleaning list. Chimneys and other smoke-carrying structures should be swept on a regular basis.

Why should you clean your chimney on a regular basis?

As a safety measure, you should get your chimney cleaned on a regular basis. “[From 2014 to 2018], failure to clean, largely from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys, was the leading factor contributing to home heating fires (25 percent),” Lorraine Carli, Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), noted. “These flames are caused by creosote, an oily material that builds up inside chimneys.”

Cleaning your chimney can assist prevent obstructions that can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, in addition to preventing fires.

When should your chimney be cleaned?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends having your chimney cleaned and inspected once a year by a competent professional. Carli recommends having your chimney swept at least once a year, regardless of the type of chimney you have. If you have an oil or wood-burning fireplace, clean it at least twice a year, depending on how much you use it.

While you should engage a professional to clean and inspect your chimney once a year, you may also follow recommended practices to keep your chimney in good shape all year. Keep your firebox clean, make sure your damper is open before using your fireplace, and invest in a chimney cover or crown to keep debris and even small animals out of your chimney and home. To maintain your chimney up to code, make sure it has a stainless steel liner.