If you can see past the damper in the throat of the chimney, shine a flashlight up from inside to look for black, scaly creosote buildup on the inner walls. Creosote buildup on the inner walls of the chimney must be removed periodically to prevent chimney fires. The amount of buildup inside the chimney will depend upon how much wood you burn seasonally and how long it has been since the last cleaning.
Cleaning is generally recommended at least once a year for an active fireplace.
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We hope you find this information both helpful and educational with regard to chimney cleaning.
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