Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why does my chimney need to be cleaned?

A: Whenever you enjoy a fire in your fireplace, whether you’re burning wood or fire logs, small flammable particles are created and carried up into the chimney with the smoke. If not removed, these particles can build up on your chimney’s walls and easily cause a chimney fire.

A chimney fire can cause a cracked chimney liner and can allow flames to access the surrounding walls and roof, where the fire can easily spread. Having your chimney regularly cleaned, however, can prevent these types of events from occurring.

Q: How frequently does my chimney need to be cleaned?

A: According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 211, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

Even if you aren’t using your chimney on a regular basis, animals can build nests inside of the flue, and other types of decay or deterioration can occur and lead to safety issues.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) also recommends regular cleanings, suggesting that when soot buildup has reached ¼”, it’s time to clean – if glazed creosote is present, the cleaning needs to happen even before this.

The best way to know when it’s time to have your chimney swept is to schedule an inspection annually.

Q. Should this chimney be checked, even if I heat with gas?

Yes! Even though gas is considered a clean-burning fuel, a gas appliance and chimney can still encounter blockages or other problems. An annual inspection is a must, regardless of fuel type.

Q: What is 3rd stage creosote (glazing)?

Creosote is a substance that occurs when fuel is not burned completely. This flammable deposit can be incredibly dangerous, especially when in its stage 3 form, which is waxy, shiny, and black. Creosote at this stage is also much more difficult to remove, but regular cleanings can prevent this buildup.

Q: Why do I need a chimney cap?

Chimney caps are important because they work to keep things like rain, birds, leaves, squirrels, insects, and other things from entering your chimney system. If allowed in to your chimney system, animals, insects, and moisture can cause serious damage and increase health and safety risks.

Q: Why is my fireplace smoking and what can I do about it?

A: Smoky fireplaces and stoves can be a result of several things:

  1. If it’s a result of creosote buildup, animal nesting materials, or another flue blockage, have the chimney cleaned.
  2. It’s possible your damper is closed. Double check to make sure that your damper is properly opened.
  3. Your flue may be too small for your fireplace. Try placing a 4” to 6” wide strip of aluminum foil above the fireplace opening. If the aluminum foil reduces or stops your smoke problem, you may simply need to have a Smoke Guard or a draft induction fan installed.
  4. Your chimney may be too short. If this is the case, we can extend your chimney.

Q: Why does my fireplace stink and what can I do about it?

A: Creosote deposits are typically responsible for fireplace odor, especially in the summer when humidity is high. In addition to a good cleaning, you may need to use a commercial chimney deodorant, baking soda, or even kitty litter. You may also need to have a top-mounted damper installed, and you’ll want to have the chimney checked for leaks.

Q: Why is my basement fireplace smoking when I build a fire in my upstairs fireplace?

A: Air pressure problems are typically to blame. To resolve this issue, you will need to add makeup air to the home or install a top-sealing damper on the least used chimney.

Q: What do I do if I have a fire in my chimney?

A: If you have a chimney fire:

  1. Call the fire department.
  2. Evacuate those in your home.
  3. Do not use your appliance until you’ve had it professionally inspected and approved for safe use.

Q: Do you offer financing?

Yes we do! We understand that sometimes your dream upgrade or a needed repair job doesn’t fall into your current budget. Unfortunately, putting off this maintenance can only make your current fireplace or chimney issues worse. Because of this we’ve provided some great offers through Enerbank. Check out our financing options today.

We take pride in the work we do and love serving the people of Northern Virginia. Check out our awards & certifications that prove why we’re the best in the biz!


We believe the more you know about us, the more likely you are to call on Winston’s Chimney Service for all your chimney needs. Give us a call today.

We Offer Financing. Check out our financing options today.

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109