Good question. Some people go for several years without cleaning their flue. Some get by with it but most don't. I personally saw 5 homes in the Tri CIties area that burned completely down as a result of a chimney fire. Who knows how many more received partial damage. The cost of getting your chimney cleaned by a professional is nothing compared to the cost of losing your home and all your possessions. Even worse than losing your possessions, you risk losing your life or the life of a family member. Why take the risk?
Some people clean their chimney themselves and think they are doing a good job. While their intentions are good, I can tell you that few if any homeowners have the right equipment and knowledge to clean a flue the way we do. We see it all the time where a homeowner goes to Lowes or Home Depot and buys a 6 or 8 inch round brush and some lightweight rods and tries to "clean" their chimney. Most flue tiles are 13 inch by 13 inch. Think about it, an 8 inch round brush isn't going to scrub a 13 inch share tile very well. In addition they are standing up on the roof trying to reach the top of the chimney chase and then run the rods and brush up and down the flue. Working on the roof is always dangerous.
Certainly this is better than doing nothing but just barely. The fact is, it takes appropriate sized equipment to clean the flue adequately. We use expandable brushes that are spun by an electric motor. As they spin they expand to reach every surface of the flue multiple times per minute. Some flues have just a buildup of light ash, some have creosote, some have heavy crystallized creosote. We have different brushes for each. For the worst cases we have a brush that uses 3/16 inch steel cable for the brushing fibers. In short, cleaning a chimney is NOT a DIY project. A homeowner can supplement the cleaning process but it should still be cleaned by a professional once per year. Don't risk your home or your life, call Chimney Sweeps of Northeast Tennessee to schedule your chimney cleaning today.