A few things....
1. What ever it must be, I think you are over due. :)
2. I would contact your insurance company, some have 'required
maintainance' to maintain underwriting protection.
3. I would contact your fire company. If they are honest they will
inform you of the NFPA suggestions, and their own observations. I've
run into paid companys that 'refuse' to advise home owners of any
information, I guess they get paid per fire. ;)
4. I would only use a BBB rated, company. I've seen too many fly by
night certifications peddled on the net. So stick with a sweep with a
long standing good reputation, also fully insured, and complient with
all local codes and licenses.
Just a FYI, since it is your home, not mine.
In My Humble Option,
tom @ www.NoCostAds.com
It should be inspected at the beginning of each burning season,
at the minimum. Given that it hasn't burst into flame yet,
it probably won't NEED cleaning that often, but since whoever's
doing the inspection is up there anyway, they might as well.
The inspection isn't just about creasote build up, you
want to look for damage, blockages, and unexpected live
and dead animals, too. Being up there gives you
a chance to look at the flashing around the roof
penetration, and at how the roofing is doing, too.
The amount of build-up is a function of how long
and what temperature you burn what kind of wood,
the efficiency of the stove, and whether or not
you've got a functioning afterburner/catalytic
It should be checked and cleaned once a year. The level of cleaning it
needs is not going to be the same every year, but after 7 years of
once-a-week use I would think you're going to need a good scrubbing.
Is your chimney lined with a steel chimney liner? Older houses with
wood-burning fireplaces often were built with terra cotta liners that
usually last 50-75 years. So if you don't have a replacement steel
liner yet, it may be time to get one. A chimney sweep will tell you if
this is the case, but this is one reason to get that annual check.
Even if you have a newer liner, after 7 years you definitely want to
get it inspected to make sure it's holding up. I think steel liners
are only rated for 25 years or so.
If your old liner is breaking down, you may end up with carbon monoxide
leaking into your house. You really don't want to mess around with
chimneys; annual checkups are so cheap that there's no reason not to
have them done. (The guy we use charges like $30 for the inspection
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