As a homeowner, maintaining your home is of paramount importance. Your chimney, while often overlooked, plays a crucial role in your home’s safety and comfort. Recognizing when to call a professional chimney sweep can make all the difference. Here’s a checklist to guide you.

1. Regular Maintenance

It’s recommended to have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year, typically in the fall before the heating season begins. Regular maintenance can help identify and address issues early, ensuring the safe and efficient operation of your chimney.

2. After a Chimney Fire

If you’ve experienced a chimney fire, it’s critical to call a professional chimney sweep as soon as possible. They can assess the damage, clean the chimney, and carry out necessary repairs before the chimney is used again.

3. Unusual Sounds or Smells

If you start hearing strange sounds (like scratching or rustling) or notice an unusual smell coming from your fireplace or chimney, it’s time to call a chimney sweep. These signs could indicate a blockage, such as a bird’s nest or buildup of debris, which requires professional attention.

4. Visible Creosote Buildup

Creosote, a byproduct of wood combustion, is black or brown in appearance and can look flaky, sticky, shiny, or hard, depending on its stage. If you can see more than 1/8-inch of buildup inside your chimney, or any amount of glazed creosote, it’s time to call a chimney sweep.

5. Smoke Entering Your Home

If smoke is coming back into your home instead of going up the chimney, it could indicate a problem like a blockage, structural issue, or creosote buildup. A professional chimney sweep can diagnose and resolve the issue.

6. Changes to Your Heating System

If you’re installing a new heating system in your home, such as a new stove or flue liner, have a chimney sweep inspect your chimney. They can ensure it’s compatible with your new system and doesn’t pose any safety risks.

7. Prior to Home Purchase or After Home Sale

If you’re buying a home, it’s wise to have the chimney inspected before finalizing the purchase. If you’re selling, an inspection can give potential buyers peace of mind that the chimney is safe and in good condition.

8. Physical Damage to the Chimney

If you notice physical damage like a leaning chimney, cracks in the masonry, or missing bricks, call a chimney sweep. These signs can indicate serious structural issues that require immediate attention.


Maintaining a safe, functional chimney is an essential aspect of homeownership. By knowing when to call a professional chimney sweep, you can prevent serious problems, ensure the efficient operation of your chimney, and protect your home and family. With this checklist in hand, you’ll be better prepared to recognize the signs that it’s time to pick up the phone and call in the pros.

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