I Know That Winter and Wood Stove and Fireplace Use Seems a Long Way Off....
But, as a Chimney Sweep ,lets just say "I see things". On a daily basis, there are a couple of comments I find myself repeating over and over. It bothers me to the point that I feel it very important to get these points out to the general public - for basic safety and long-term personal health to wood-burning consumers.
If you have any modern, EPA, certified Wood Burning appliance and you have any of these conditions - There IS something not right with the unit itself or the installation and it should definitely be checked and swept by a qualified, WETT Certified Chimney Sweep. This applies also to non- EPA burners. These symptoms are especially concerning with a newer unit.
Things to look for:
You often smell smoke
There are soot stains around doors, blower outlets etc.
There is often a layer of soot on the furniture ( however slight )
It is very difficult to start a fire
Opening the door always brings a puff of smoke into the room
A big one - the glass is always dirty
Or this - dirty on one side of glass only, huh?
I cannot stress this next point enough: Aside from opening the door too quickly, you should never smell smoke in your house!
Take a minute to explain your concern to your Chimney Sweep. It is their job to find the source and fix these problems. Here are some simple (not always) things I find wrong every day:
Fireplace Inserts- #1, separated liner
Masonry fireplace/ with steel insert- rust perforations of steel
Factory built fireplace- #1, fresh-air intake blocked by spiders!
EPA Wood stove / Insert- bricks in the wrong place
I also find many consumers, especially those that have just purchased do not understand how to operate their appliances. Its just like having a car that has low tire pressure or in need of a tune up. The energy and money wasted is staggering. It is a small investment to have a Chimney Sweep help you with your stove operation. We are more than happy to give you tips.
In many European countries that have long standing traditions of Professional Chimney Sweeps, I have been told that it is considered 'good luck' to have a chimney sweep cross your path. The Sweeps often have official uniforms with fancy silver shirt buttons. A customer told me people from her village were always sure to touch the sweeps cuff button 'for good luck'. I told her that these traditions probably came about because Chimney Sweeps, in the run of a day find and remedy (often for no extra charge) problems that could have ended with tragedy.