There is nothing quite as nice as warming up and unwinding sitting next to a roaring fire in your home at the end of a long, hard day. However, if you aren’t careful, all this relaxation could become a serious safety and health risk if you haven’t had your stove or chimney cleaned or inspected before lighting a fire.
Stoves and fireplaces are the top causes of carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires in the U.S. In many situations, these accidents could be prevented just by investing in professional inspections and cleaning services for the chimney each year.
Here you can find three reasons describing why it is so important to have your chimney inspected and cleaned before winter, and how this service can help protect your safety and save you money.
Removal of Pests and Obstructions
Just like your gutters, your chimney may become clogged with lawn debris, such as leaves and sticks, and even animal nests. Squirrels, bats, birds and other critters like making their homes in chimneys during the spring and summer months. If you light a fire in your stove or fireplace when the flue is blocked by debris, a nest or an animal, it may cause a fire. Also, if the smoke can’t escape the chimney, it is going to come back into your home, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
While some people may want to build a fire to “smoke out” any animals or to burn away obstructions, they should understand this is actually an extremely dangerous method. Many people who have done this in the past wound up starting fire in their chimney, instead. It is best to hire professional chimney sweeps with experience in the removal of animals, lawn debris and nests. This will ensure your chimney is ready for the new burning season.
Have you ever noticed the tar-like, dark or glassy substance on the walls of your chimney? This is called creosote. It is an extremely flammable, chemical compound that is found in chimneys when wood is burned. Softwoods and unseasoned wood will produce the largest amount of creosote.
This substance is the top cause of house and chimney fires. A stray spark or high temperatures can easily ignite it. If there are large buildups of creosote, it may burn for longer periods of time, when temperatures are extremely high. Even if the fire remains in the flue, it can result in serious structural damage to your chimney, and the surrounding area of your home.
Find Any Structural Problems or Hidden Damage
Each part of your chimney – the crown, flue, damper system, bricks and mortar – need to remain in good condition to help protect your home from water damage, fire and even carbon monoxide poisoning. Unfortunately, regardless of how well you care for your chimney, it can still suffer damage and deterioration because it is exposed to harsh weather conditions, corrosive chemical compounds and high temperatures.
Common problems with chimneys that need immediate repair include warped dampers, damaged flue liners and cracked chimney crowns. Most of these issues can be found during a professional inspection.
If you want to enjoy fires in your fireplace or stove this winter, you must make sure your fireplace is properly maintained. The tips here will ensure everything is in good working order for the season ahead.