Protect Your Home Against Chimney Fires This Winter
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC), an average of 22,300 chimney fires occurred annually in the United States between 2011 and 2013.
As the temperatures continue to drop, there is nothing like gathering in front of a cozy fire or basking in the warmth of a wood stove. Unfortunately, many people fail to consider the condition of their chimney before lighting those inviting fires. Not having your chimney cleaned and inspected annually can leave you at risk for a chimney fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. This can damage structures, and cause physical harm to your home and family.
Annual chimney inspections will remove flammable creosote, the major cause of chimney fires, prevent carbon monoxide intrusion and identify potential system issues before they become costly.
To mitigate the potential for a chimney fire and help keep heating appliances and fireplaces functioning properly, we offer the following safety tips:
- Schedule an annual chimney check. Have chimneys inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary, by a qualified professional chimney service technician. This reduces the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisonings due to creosote buildup or obstructions in the chimneys.
- Keep it clear. Keep tree branches and leaves at least 15 feet away from the top of the chimney.
- Install a chimney cap to keep debris, rain, snow and animals out of the chimney.
- Choose the right fuel. For burning firewood in wood stoves or fireplaces, choose well-seasoned wood that has been split, stacked, and dried for eight to 12 months and stored in a covered and elevated location. Never burn Christmas trees or treated wood in your fireplace or wood stove.
- Only burn wood. Crates, lumber, construction scraps, painted wood, or other treated wood releases chemicals into your home, compromising your air quality.
- Build it right. Place firewood or firelogs at the rear of the fireplace
- Keep the hearth area clear. Combustible material too close to the fireplace, or to a wood stove, could easily catch fire. Keep furniture at least 36” away from the hearth.
- Use a fireplace screen. Use metal mesh or a screen in front of the fireplace to catch flying sparks that could ignite or burn holes in the carpet or flooring.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Place detectors throughout the house and check batteries in the spring and fall. When you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time, remember to check your batteries.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Before turning in for the evening, be sure that the fire is fully extinguished. Supervise children and pets closely around wood stoves and fireplaces.
Even if you have already used your fireplace this year, it is never too late to have your chimney inspected. If you experience damage to your home caused by a chimney fire, call SERVPRO of Boston Downtown immediately at (617) 227-2200.