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When you hire a chimney sweep, choose one who can do both a cleaning and an inspection.
During the inspection, the chimney professional will look for cracks in the masonry, damaged dampers, worn-out chimney caps and other problems—and fix them. A chimney sweep can probably spot those problems, but if you hire one just to clean, he or she won’t also repair the damage.
Have your chimney inspected once a year, and the inspector can tell you if it needs to be cleaned more often. That usually depends on how often you build fires in the fireplace.
Between inspections, you can check the outside of the chimney for cracks, which are usually stained by smoke so they’re easy to spot. And install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms on every floor of your home.

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