If I had a dollar for every time I heard the remark; I thought the furnace guy cleaned the chimney; well I'd be retiring sooner. The fact is the "furnace guy" cleans the furnace, boiler and or water heater, he never touches the chimney. That's a job for a chimney sweep.
The picture at the right is the chimney cleanout on a 1950s ranch home in Wallingford, CT. When looking at the chimney from the exterior during the beginning of the home inspection, there was a good amount of soot staining near the upper portion of the chimney. I remarked to my client this could be due to a dirty chimney or other causes. I explained I would put the pieces together once I got to the basement and checked the boiler and chimney on the interior.
As is clear from the picture the chimney was packed with years and years of soot accumulation. The flue may be choked down to just a few inches from the soot buildup. This can cause the unit to run inefficiently and poorly vent the combustion gases. The possibility of combustion gases (CO) entering the house when the chimney is in this condition also increases.
The chimney flue venting an oil fired appliance, water heater or heating unit, should be cleaned about every 5-7 years. It is part of regular home maintenance and should not be neglected. The cost for cleaning a chimney is about $125-$150 per flue. Not a large expense since it is only necessary every few years.
Cleaning your chimney regularly will avoid a sooty mess, keep you and your family safe from combustion gases, and help the heating system run more efficiently.
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC