The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, "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." This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don't use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be swept at 1/8" of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home. Factory-built fireplaces should be swept when any appreciable buildup occurs. The logic is that the deposit is quite acidic and can shorten the life of the fireplace.Why should I choose Rhino Chimney Service? We pride ourselves in giving the best customer service possible. We are VERY committed to training and education. We guarantee a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep on EVERY chimney sweep and inspection. We also guarantee a NFI Certified Specialist on EVERY installation. NO EXCEPTIONS! Ask other chimney and fireplace companies if they make the same guarantee. Feel free to ask for our credentials when we arrive. Credential can also be checked at NFICertified.org and CSIA.org
This is a very "open-ended" question. There are many things that "could" happen. Anywhere from nothing different to something very terrible and freighting, that chimney professionals refer to as "a bad thing happening". We feel that even if you don't use your chimney often, or even at all, let a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep inspect it for defects, deterioration, water infiltration, and even animal presence. If you are using your chimney, there is even more of a danger of "a bad thing happening". Don't take that chance with your belongings and your family, call a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep today!
This has become quite a common problem in modern air tight houses where weather-proofing has sealed up the usual air infiltration routes. The fireplace in use exhausts household air until a negative pressure situation exists. If the house is fairly tight, the simplest route for makeup air to enter the structure is often the unused fireplace chimney. As air is drawn down this unused flue, it picks up smoke that is exiting nearby from the fireplace in use and delivers the smoke to the living area. The best solution is to provide makeup air to the house so the negative pressure problem no longer exists, thus eliminating not only the smoke problem, but also the potential for carbon monoxide to be drawn back down the furnace chimney. A secondary solution is to install a top mount damper on the fireplace that is used the least.