How Often to Clean Chimney with Oil Furnace?

How often to clean chimney with oil furnace? If you have this question on your mind, you should find an answer to it before the next winter knocks at your door. Leaving the furnace dirty for the next cold period of the year can cause serious health issues and home damage. Oil combustion generates nasty by-products that reduce the operation potential of the furnace and can harm your family members. That’s why, you have to take furnace and chimney cleaning seriously. Read on to learn how to care for these vital structures of your house.

Why chimney with oil furnace gets dirty?

Chimneys get messy no matter the type of fuel used to keep the home warm. Yet, no other fuel out there causes so much nasty buildup in such a short period of time as oil does. While it is highly effective in warming up the house, oil is the dirtiest burning fuel. First of all, its combustion results in sulfur and carbon. These two create a toxic soot that builds up on the walls and operation parts of the furnace.

A thin layer of this substance will obviously represent no danger. Things chance radically when the soot accumulates into a thick coat and is literally everywhere inside the furnace and chimney. The carbon and sulfur will not allow nitrogen, water vapor and carbon monoxide to leave the house through the vents. These harmful substances can escape the furnace and travel through your home, which can lead to serious health problems.

Moreover, if the sulfur comes into contact with moisture from flue gases, it transforms into sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid can corrode the furnace and chimney metal, which poses a risk for fire. The furnace’s accelerated wear and tear caused by the corrosion will have you pay a lot for repairs and replace the heating unit earlier than planned. That being said, closing the eye to oil by-products is not the way you should handle things if you own an oil furnace. To minimize the impact of harmful soot, you have to clean the furnace and chimney regularly.

How often to clean chimney with oil furnace?

If your furnace runs on oil, you have to clean it along with the chimney anually. To be more precise, you are best off doing it at the end of winter. Some argue that cleaning can be done during summer as well. However, removing the soot immediately after turning off the furnace is still a better decision. Acting promptly prevents the soot from setting on the chimney walls and makes it easier to remove.

If you live in an area where low temperatures persist during fall and winter, your best bet is to clean the chimney twice a year — at the end of fall and at the end of winter. The more the furnace works, the more soot builds up. If you fail to remove the soot at the end of fall, the winter will be hard both for your furnace and your family.

Cleaning the chimney yourself or calling in a professional?

An average person can easily clean the chimney if they have the special chimney cleaning tools on hand. Even if the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for ages, you can still take on the task. You just have to apply more elbow grease. The furnace is a more complex device than chimney. That’s why, if it has not seen cleaning in years and it’s stuffed with nasty substances, you are best off hiring a professional.

Make sure you have the proper cleaning tools handy. Otherwise, you will find it hard to remove the whole amount of soot residing in the chimney. They include brushes to swipe the nasty dark powder off the chimney walls and specialized rods to reach to the soot located higher on the pipe.

How to clean a chimney?

While you may be expecting spending hours on cleaning the chimney, your worries are in vain. If you are properly equipped, cleaning the chimney will take 20-60 minutes, depending on how large and dirty it is. First of all, get the furnace out of the way so that you have more place for maneuver. Wear gloves to prevent your hands getting black from soot. Grab the rod and brush the chimney, starting from the top and working your way downwards.

Cleaning the chimney’s top is more difficult, because you have less control and you don’t see where the soot buildups are located. Run the rod repeatedly and persistently across each wall of the chimney to make sure all dirt came off. Once the entire pipe has been freed of nasty stuff, vacuum up the soot from the floor. If you don’t want to waste time on vacuuming, simply cover the floor with newspaper or other coverage before proceeding with the cleaning. Don’t use towels or linens, as it’s hard to get the soot out of fabrics.

How to maintain a chimney?

Chimney maintenance is closely tied to furnace maintenance. By taking good care of your furnace, you ensure that less soot gets on your chimney walls. A vital step is to change the filter on the furnace every time you clean the heating device. This will restrict the soot from traveling through the vents and building up in large quantities.

Also, make a point of hiring a professional to do a yearly inspection of your furnace. This will help identify parts that are not functioning well, and allow you repair or replace them until a breakdown happens. Flawed parts can make the furnace use more resource (oil) to generate the needed amount of heat. Hence, more soot will form and more dirt will accumulate in the chimney.

Final thoughts

This article had the goal of answering the question “how often to clean chimney with oil furnace?” and giving cleaning and maintenance tips for oil-fired furnace owners. Before buying such a heating unit make sure you understand its cleaning, care and inspection needs. After all, if you are a busy person and can’t pay due attention to your furnace, hire a professional to do the dirty work for you.