Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance and Safety TipsDecember 16, 2018 Chimney fire prevention • Disaster Restoration • Fire and smoke restoration • Gold Star Property Restoration • Tips
The holiday season is here. The pumpkin spice lattes, cider mills and college football tailgates we enjoyed just weeks ago seem like distant memories, and as the big chill of another winter descends upon Michigan once again, throwing a few logs into the fireplace and gathering ‘round to make some family memories is a great tradition. But it can also be a dangerous one.
According to a 2016 report from the National Fire Protection Association, dirty chimneys are a leading cause of heating-related fires in the U.S., and these types of fires often cause substantial damage. From built-up creosote – a highly flammable byproduct of wood combustion – that collects on the inside of chimneys as a result of inadequate ventilation, to sticks, leaves and debris used by nesting wildlife, ill-maintained chimneys can accumulate a variety of materials that can fuel the flames of disaster at your home.
We’ve completed extensive fire and smoke damage repairs across the state of Michigan, and while the scope of the damage to our customers’ homes ranges from minor to disastrous, the good news is the majority of fires related to chimney issues is very preventable.
Here are some tips for ensuring your fireplace remains a source of joy and nostalgia – not danger – this winter.
- Hire a professional to clean your chimney, and to inspect it for damage and loose bricks. You should do this every year prior to using your fireplace.
- NEVER LEAVE A FIRE UNATTENDED! ‘(Nuff said).
- Install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in your home. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that kills around 4,000 people per year, and an obstructed chimney can result in this silent killer making its way into your home. If you already have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, replace the batteries and test them to make sure your family remains safe.
- Keep the front of your fireplace completely clear. It may be tempting to add holiday flair close to it, but flammable decorations can result in holiday flames.
- Use seasoned wood that’s been split for six-plus months. Newer wood creates more creosote when it burns, increasing your risk of chimney fires. If you use unseasoned wood, have your chimney cleaned and inspected twice per year.
- Put a cap on it! Cap your chimney to keep critters, debris and the elements out. Doing so will promote the likelihood that the inside of your chimney remains in tact, and will prevent wildlife and flammable materials from making their way in.
- Keep glass fireplace doors open to allow air to be drawn up the chimney, but leave your mesh screen closed to prevent sparks from landing on carpet and/or nearby objects.
- Remember to open your flue when you’re using your fireplace and close it when you’re not.
We hope you found these basic tips useful, and we encourage you to do more research about how you can promote fire safety in your home.
From our family to yours, have a happy, safe holiday season and a prosperous New Year!
Whether your home has been damaged by wind or water, or fire or smoke, we’re here to help you navigate the restoration process, and the complex insurance claims process, and to return you and your family to normalcy as quickly as possible.
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