Keep Your Fireplace Clean & Safe
One of the nicest things about wintertime is warming yourself in front of a nice cozy fire. While a toasty fireplace is a luxury, it also comes with the responsibility of keeping it clean and safe. The National Fire Protection Association-NFPA , the authority on fire safety, did a five-year study and found that the leading cause of home heating fires was the failure to clean solid-fueled heating equipment – and the chief problem was creosote in chimneys.
There isn’t a simple rule of thumb on how often to clean your chimney, such as cleaning after 50 uses or once a year. Anytime a fireplace is used, creosote is deposited in the chimney lining or flue. Since creosote is highly flammable and probably creates the biggest potential hazard when using a fireplace, it’s wise to try and minimize the amount of buildup that occurs.
Whenever possible burn your wood fires hot. Hotter flue gasses prevent the condensation of creosote and pass more quickly through the chimney. They are therefore useful in preventing the accumulation of creosote in the flue. If you are using a wood stove, be sure to have a stove thermometer in place so you can avoid over-firing your stove; also, avoid closing the dampers to prolong burning. Slower, cooler burning wood fires are the primary contributor of creosote accumulation in a flue. It is a good idea to treat your firewood with a compound that will help keep creosote from accumulating in your flue.
When the chimney is cleaned, it should also be inspected. The chimney needs to be checked for signs of deterioration, and the flue lining should be carefully inspected. A cracked flue lining creates the possibility that heat could enter your home and cause a house fire. For an inspection to yield the best results, the flues to be inspected will need to be cleaned first. Otherwise, soot, creosote, or other residue might mask a problem.
With winter just around the corner, it’s time for everyone with a chimney to make sure it’s clean and ready to provide a cozy, warm and safe fire. This time of year, is the busiest for chimney sweeps as every family with a fireplace scrambles to get their chimney inspected and cleaned before the cold weather comes in.
You should make periodic visual inspections of the external portions of your chimney and any connections between burning appliances and your flue. However, regular annual inspection and cleaning by a qualified chimney professional should be done to identify serious problems that may need repair and properly clean your chimney.
If you haven’t had your fireplace cleaned and inspected by a professional chimney sweep since last winter, it is not too late, but don’t delay.
The failure to keep your chimney and fireplace clean and safe can result in a deadly fire.