When is the last time you had your chimney inspected? Fireplaces can add extra heat in the winter, but if they're not properly maintained, they can also become a hazard.
The purpose of a chimney is to carry hazardous gases and smoke out of your home. If chimneys are not cleaned regularly, residue called creosote can build up inside your chimney and catch fire. When you clean your chimney and have it inspected periodically, you help ensure there is a clear pathway for gasses and heat to escape.
If you're planning on firing up the fireplace, please keep the following tips in mind to help prevent chimney fires:
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year by a chimney professional. A chimney professional will make sure your chimney is structurally sound and will remove creosote buildup and any other debris (such as animal nests).
- Important: COOL your ashes and then CAN your ashes. Embers from fires can retain heat and reignite for days after the original fire.
- Only burn dried-out wood - cardboard, trash, or other objects can burn very quickly and the flames can get out of control. Never dispose of a Christmas tree in your fireplace. Like ever.
- Never (ever) use flammable liquids! You're not lighting the grill. No charcoal, no lighter fluid, no kerosene, no gasoline.
- Keep your fireplace doors opened or cracked when burning a fire, as restricted air supply can cause creosote buildup.
- Stay on the lookout for signs of chimney fires. Indications of chimney fires include dense smoke and a loud rumbling noise (often compared to a freight train). If you think you have a chimney fire, get everyone safely out of your home and call 911. Never attempt to fight the fire yourself.
- Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are WORKING. We're not kidding when we say that carbon monoxide is the "silent killer"and you MUST keep those carbon monoxide detectors in good shape.
- Working smoke alarms? We know - you're too smart not to have them in your home and that you test them as often as you check your phone.
- Chimney fires often lead to house fires. It's important to follow safe fire-burning practices and keep regular maintenance on your chimney.