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Does an Oil Furnace Flue Need To Be Cleaned?

When it comes to maintenance, many homeowners think about the performance of their oil  furnaces – but may overlook the condition of the flue that carries away the byproducts of combustion. However, the state of your furnace flue is something that impacts the safety, efficiency, and longevity of the system as a whole. 

Just like wood-burning appliances, oil and gas heating systems (like your furnace and hot water heater) are combustion systems. In combustion systems, your fuel reacts with an oxidizing agent to release energy in the form of heat and light. In a home heating system, this translates to warmth on cold days.

…but it also releases byproducts that you don’t want in your home. It’s the job of the flue to help vent these gases and other byproducts safely outside of your home. Over time, however, these byproducts can leave deposits and residue inside the flue, which can be damaging and problematic.

So does your oil furnace flue need to be cleaned like wood-burning appliances’ flues do? They certainly do. And ignoring the maintenance of your oil furnace flue can lead to various problems, such as reduced efficiency, increased fuel consumption, increased safety risks, and costly repairs.

Why Does My Flue Need Cleaning?

  • a thin furnace flue sticking out the top of a roofEfficiency: If you have an interest in maintaining the efficiency of your heating system – and of course you do! – then you’ll want to have your furnace flue cleaned annually. When soot, debris, and residue accumulate inside the flue, it can restrict the flow of combustion gases. This can force the furnace to work harder to expel the exhaust gases, leading to diminished energy efficiency. The end result? You may find yourself using more oil to achieve the same level of warmth, leading to higher heating bills.
  • Safety: Since you’re dealing with potential hazards, safety needs to be a top consideration when it comes to home heating systems. A neglected oil furnace flue can pose significant safety risks. Damaged or obstructed flues can increase risk of an uncontained fire or backdrafting. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced during combustion. An improperly functioning flue can lead to carbon monoxide backdrafting into your home rather than being vented outdoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious health hazard, and its symptoms can range from mild to severe, or even fatal.
  • Extending the Life of Your Furnace: Staying on top of regular flue maintenance can help extend the lifespan of your appliance. While build up of creosote isn’t a concern as it would be in a wood system, residue and acidic condensates inside the flue can lead to corrosion and damage over time. Keeping the flue clean reduces these risks and can extend the life of your furnace, as well as potentially save you from costly repairs during its life.
  • Compliance With Regulations: Some local building codes and regulations require periodic chimney inspections and cleaning, and ignoring them can lead to fines or penalties. In addition, failing to invest in maintenance might void any warranties.

How Often Should My Flue Be Cleaned?

As with wood burning fireplaces and other heating appliances, it’s recommended that the flue of an oil burning appliance should be cleaned every year. This will help minimize risks of leaks, corrosion, and premature wear and tear, and help keep your system running and peak efficiency. Your system works hard to keep you cozy, so make sure you give it the maintenance it requires to do its job from top to bottom.

Who Can Clean My Furnace Flue?

a metal flue with lots of white smoke coming outMany homeowners make the mistake of assuming their furnace company includes flue maintenance as part of their regular service. But don’t assume that you’re covered just because you’re diligent about professional furnace maintenance!

While some companies might offer flue cleaning as an optional service, it’s not a given that it will be included in routine furnace maintenance visits. It’s very important to communicate with your furnace service provider, understand what’s included, and confirm whether flue cleaning is part of their service package.

If it isn’t, hiring a professional chimney sweep technician to ensure your flue is cleaned and inspected regularly is the path to ensuring your flue gets the attention it needs.

Call Us Today

At Top Hat & Tails, we’ve spent over twenty years in the chimney care field. Throughout those years we’ve proven ourselves to be reliable experts who are motivated by the safety, comfort, and overall satisfaction of our clients. And because we’re certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), you can rest assured that our skills and industry knowledge are up to par.

If you’re not sure when the last time your oil furnace flue has been looked at, contact us to set up an inspection and cleaning today. We’ll be happy to give you the assurance of having a clean, clear ventilation pathway from your home heating appliance and out of your living space.

When Should I Schedule My Chimney Sweeping?

Relishing the comforting glow of a crackling fire is a cherished cold-weather ritual in many households – so much so that when you smell fall in the air you start dreaming of the warmth and ambiance to come. But it’s important to note that, amongst the anticipation, the importance of maintaining your chimney system should play a role. Yes, it’s not glamorous as the flickering flame and radiant warmth themselves. But attentive chimney maintenance does play a crucial role in facilitating them!

Regular chimney inspections and sweeping is a vital aspect of home care for those who enjoy stoves and fireplaces in their living spaces, but as with many home systems, this type of maintenance could go unaddressed until problems arise. However, if a problem noticeably arises in your home heating system, it probably should have been addressed much sooner for reasons of safety, as well as convenience and cost effectiveness.

Why Schedule Your Chimney Inspection Early?

While it may be tempting to put off scheduling chimney sweeping and inspections, there are numerous benefits to being proactive about scheduling the essential service. When is the best time for it? In short, now. There are lots of benefits to acting promptly and arranging for a chimney service sooner rather than later.

  • an open scheduler or planner with appointments written in and post it notes throughout Safety first. Safety is the most compelling reason to schedule your chimney sweeping service promptly. How is a clean chimney a safer chimney? Over time, soot, creosote, and debris can build up within your chimney, creating a potential fire hazard. Each of these substances is combustible, and while your firebox can safely contain a fire, your chimney is not designed to. A clogged chimney also can’t do its job of venting smoke and gases properly. Scheduling your chimney sweepings promptly and routinely helps ameliorate this hazardous situation.
  • Prioritizing efficiency. A clean chimney helps you get the most from your heating system. How is a clean chimney a more efficient chimney? When a chimney is clogged, airflow and exhaust is restricted. This results in lower efficiency. With a dirty chimney, you may experience reduced heat output, fuel waste, and higher energy bills. By scheduling your sweeping before burning system, you help ensure that your heating appliance will function at its best throughout the season – giving you maximum warmth and comfort in the cooler months.
  • Early detection of issues. Chimney sweeping not only removes buildup, it’s another occasion that a seasoned professional will have eyes on your chimney. Having your chimney under the watchful care of an experienced technician is why annual inspections are so important. Our CSIA certified team of pros are apt to identify and recommend solutions to chimney issues more readily than your average homeowner due to our years of training and experience. Why does a clean chimney tend to be more sound? Because a professional technician can identify any cracks, leaks, or structural problems in the chimney. Addressing these problems in a timely way can prevent more extensive, costly repairs down the road – and it can extend the life of your chimney overall.
  • Avoiding long waiting times. If you’re thinking, “Hold up! I can take advantage of these benefits by scheduling any time,” fortunately, you’re right! It’s always advantageous to get maintenance taken care of – regardless of the season. But there are some distinct perks to having your chimney swept before the burning season is upon you. Why is having my chimney swept sooner in the year better? As the weather cools, you aren’t the only one thinking of your fireplace. Demand rises as temps fall, making fall and winter a busy season for chimney professionals. Waiting to schedule your appointment might lead to longer wait times and difficulty securing a convenient slot. Acting earlier helps avoid potential delays caused by the surge in demand.
  • Avoiding long waiting times, take two. Another advantage of early scheduling is that if any maintenance issues are identified (see point three), you’ll have more time before colder weather to have them addressed… and it’ll be during a less busy season for your chimney pro, which can facilitate easier scheduling (see point four). Having a pressing repair need identified right at the onset of the season is a bummer. It can delay use of your fireplace or stove system right when you’re most eager to enjoy it. But most delays can be minimized by giving your pro time to set things right. A bonus? Weather conditions may be more favorable for certain repairs when weather is more moderate.

The benefits of scheduling your chimney sweeping and inspection early outweigh the temptation to push this task into the background. Ultimately, you want your chimney to be ready when you are – and getting your chimney swept sooner will help with that.

Book With Us Today

We aren’t meteorologists, but we know that weather can be unpredictable. We are your dependable chimney professionals, and we know that the key to cold-weather readiness is to be diligent about having your chimney inspected and swept proactively, and to be responsive to needs identified. Let us help you prepare to safely enjoy another season of cozy evenings in front of the fire.

Call or book online with us now.

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