In order to safely and efficiently use your masonry heater or fireplace throughout the year, it is essential to hire a certified chimney sweep to clean your chimney. While a properly operated and maintained masonry heater or fireplace should produce minimal emissions and virtually no creosote, it is still important to regularly clean your chimney to ensure correct lighting and prevent potentially dangerous chimney fires. When using wood heat as the sole or primary method of heating your home, it is recommended to have your chimney inspected and cleaned every six months. For anyone that burns wood indoors at all, your chimney should be inspected and swept at least once a year.
Some products are advertised as providing a similar service to chimney sweeping but through the convenient medium of burning a special creosote sweeping log. While it is true that regularly burning these logs in a conventional fireplace can reduce the accumulation of creosote, they cannot replace a full inspection and cleaning by a certified professional. These logs are incapable of fully removing more hardened layers of creosote buildup in more severe cases, and an over-reliance on them can be dangerous. They should never be used in a masonry heater. Most importantly, certified chimney sweeps provide critical inspection for not only creosote buildup, but for the presence of any living or dead animals and any dangerous damage to the chimney lining or flue.
In order to find a list of certified chimney sweeps near you, check out: http://www.csia.org/