Do I need to clean my chimney if I don’t use my fireplace?

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If you’re a homeowner, you must regularly do some required maintenance activities to ensure your property is in good condition. One is cleaning your chimney, even if you don’t use your fireplace.

Do I need to clean my chimney if I don’t use my fireplace? This is one of the most common questions homeowners ask. The answer is YES! You still need to have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a reputable chimney cleaning contractor, whether you use your fireplace or not.

You must have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually, even if you don’t use your fireplace. This is because your chimney is susceptible to problems with moisture, critters, harsh elements, corrosion, and more.

Creosote and soot can accumulate over time, which may blacken your chimney. Animals may seek refuge in your chimney and construct nests that obstruct the flue, allowing toxic gases to enter your house. And, of course, these problems all lead to the risk of chimney fires.

How Often Should You Clean Your Chimney if You Don’t Use It?

According to the NFPA, it’s essential to clean your chimney at least once a year, whether you use it or not. This is where understanding the necessity of chimney cleanout doors becomes crucial. These doors provide easy access for cleaning and inspecting your chimney, ensuring it remains free from blockages and in optimal condition.

If you don’t use your fireplace, you should still have your chimney checked for blockages before the burning season begins. This will ensure everything works correctly and that you have the best possible air quality if you need to use your fireplace

Do I Need to Clean My Chimney If I Don’t Use My Fireplace?

Even if you don’t use your fireplace, annual chimney cleaning is crucial. A dirty chimney, unused or not, can lead to safety hazards. It can accumulate mold, spider webs, animal nests, and droppings, posing health and fire risks.

Here are the signs of dirt or obstruction in your chimney that indicate an immediate need for attention

1. You Can See Soot or Measure the Layer of Creosote.

Soot is made of partially combusted materials like wood, coal, and oil and is usually black or dark brown. Once you see soot inside your chimney, and the layer of soot and creosote is more than 1/8 inch, your chimney needs cleaning. It’s time to schedule your chimney sweep appointment.

2. Weird Noises Coming from Your Chimney or Fireplace

If you hear strange noises from your chimney, these sounds are usually from animals nesting there, such as birds or squirrels. 

It might also come from debris lodged in the flue; as the draft flows into the chimney, it moves around the debris, leading to the sound. Cleaning this out is a project for a professional chimney cleaning company.

3. Sparks Flying Out of The Chimney

When using your fireplace, the hot air and gases travel up the flue and out of your chimney. If you see sparks coming out of the chimney, immediately stop using the fireplace and get a chimney inspection.


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4. Evidence of Animal Nests or Droppings

When you have a dirty chimney, it becomes an attractive place for animals to nest. If you see evidence of animal nests or droppings in your chimney, it’s time to call a professional to clean it out. They can also tell you what repairs you might need to fix the damage those critters did to your home.

5. Your Fireplace Is Not Drawing Well

This is common in the springtime when the weather is still cool and there isn’t a lot of rain. If your fireplace is not drawing well, you might have restricted airflow in your chimney. This can be caused by soot or debris buildup in the chimney liner.

Therefore, if you see any of these signs, it’s time to call a professional chimney sweeper to clean your chimney. A clean chimney will prevent fires and extend your fireplace’s life.

Is It Safe to Use a Fireplace That Hasn’t Been Used in Years?

A fireplace that hasn’t been used in years is unsafe until a chimney contractor takes it through inspection and cleaning. If you don’t clean your chimney, soot and creosote can build up and cause a fire.

You should also consider a chimney cap for the unused chimney.

Here are the main reasons you want to inspect your chimney before using it:

Could a Dirty Chimney Be a Fire Hazard and Cause Respiratory Problems?

A dirty chimney can be a fire hazard and cause respiratory problems. The problem of serious fire is more than enough reason to have all your fireplaces and chimneys inspected. But the drafting of harmful gases into your home, including carbon monoxide, is just as dangerous as fires. Even the backdraft of a little smoke can be enough to make it difficult to breathe.


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Decreased Efficiency

Cleaning your fireplace can increase its efficiency. A buildup of soot and creosote can cause the fireplace to work harder and the chimney to vent less easily. This means that you’ll be using more fuel to heat your home, which can cost you more money in the long run.

Dangerous Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

A fireplace that hasn’t been used for years may put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is because the buildup of soot and creosote can block the chimney, which can cause carbon monoxide and other toxins to build up in your home.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can be deadly if inhaled. It’s vitally important to choose a high-quality carbon monoxide detector to catch leaks of this gas from your fireplace.

Water Damage Around the Fireplace

There might be water damage around the fireplace you can’t see. If the flue is damaged, water can enter the chimney and damage the structure of your home. This is why it’s crucial to have a professional inspect your fireplace before using it again.

Unused Fireplace Cleaning Cost

The price of a chimney sweep can range from $129 to $379. The national average is approximately $252.

The price varies depending on your region and how much your chimney needs cleaning. This is why covering an unused fireplace is vital if you don’t want to use it.


So do you need to clean your chimney if you don’t use your fireplace? It’s essential to check and clean your chimney annually, even if you don’t use it regularly. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to fires in the home.

Also, leaving soot and creosote in your chimney can cause long-term, expensive damage. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a professional chimney sweep.

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Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.