There is nothing quite like the warmth and glow of a wood burning fire. Fire is one of humanities oldest tools. It has the power to heat our bodies, cook our foods, refine our metals and light the darkness. We are connected to fire at a primal level and deep down we are all mystified when we see the flames dancing between logs. Nowadays we may be lucky enough to bring that joy inside but the comfort of a cozy indoor fire brings with it, plenty of danger, especially if the fireplace and chimney are not properly inspected and maintained. Here are a few tips to keep your house and family safe from the danger of an indoor fire:
According to The National Fire Protection Association, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” An inspector will come and make sure your fireplace is safe to use and let you know if there are any repairs necessary. If you haven’t used your fireplace in a long time, birds or other creatures may have built nests that could clog your flue or chimney chamber. Winter freeze cycles, inclement weather, and moisture combine to take an annual toll on masonry and liner materials. Year in and year out these elements can cause deterioration that will eventually require attention. Seasonal wear and tear that is left unchecked will affect the performance of your system and the longer the defects go without being addressed, the more expensive the repairs are likely to be. That is why staying on top of your systems is not only the smartest and safest choice but the most cost-effective too.
The best practice is to keep things simple and safe. Make sure to clean the fireplace regularly and know if it’s well built. It's also a good idea to have a professional initially inspect the fireplace and chimney even if you plan to clean and maintain it yourself. The Chimney Safety Institute recommends cleaning the chimney when creosote is 1/4 inch or thicker on the chimney walls or there is visible build up in the system. A chimney sweeping company will take their time to make sure they clean everything and keep your house soot free while doing it. The best time to schedule a cleaning is at the end of the indoor fire season as acids in the creosote, or humidity combined with creosote, can both damage the fireplace mortar. After an initial professional cleaning you should, with the right knowledge, be able to clean and maintain it yourself. Of interest… after cleaning your own fireplace, you could dispose of the ashes and creosote by sprinkling them on flowerbeds. They are a great source of calcium and other nutrients.
These are a small but important piece of your chimney. Having a chimney cap installed can prevent objects, rain, and snow from falling into your chimney reducing downdrafts which lower the performance of your fireplace. These caps have side vents so smoke escapes and the mesh around the cap sides acts as a spark arrester. Chimney caps also prevent animals and other unwanted guests from making their home in your chimney during the spring and summer months. Another tip is to trim trees back that surrounds the chimney and make sure there is no debris building up on our around it. All in all, even though a chimney cap is a small and generally inexpensive piece of equipment, it can prevent numerous issues from happening. It might also save you thousands of dollars in chimney repairs or damage expenses.
Experiencing fire or smoke damage can be an incredibly stressful event so be sure to take the appropriate measures in cleaning and maintaining your fireplace and chimney. AWR Restoration & Cleaning specializes in water restoration as well as fire and/or smoke damage and we will do our best to get you and your family back on the couch for a cozy, crackling fire on that cold winter evening.