A Burning Issue: Have Your Chimney Cleaned and InspectedBy Home Security Source Oct 1, 2010 12:00:00 PMPosted in: Carbon Monoxide, Fire Prevention, Home
As evening temperatures begin to drop, many of us will begin to enjoy the warmth and ambiance of a fire. But before firing up the first logs of the season, take the time to have your chimney and fireplace inspected by a professional. Improper fireplace maintenance is blamed for more than 5,500 fires and 10,000 gas poisonings each year.
The chimney is designed to carry away toxic gasses that result from burning wood or paper logs. That’s why it’s important to keep it clear and free from blockages. If blocked, the chimney can’t do its job and you could soon fill your home with dangerous levels of deadly carbon monoxide.
Another byproduct of burning wood is a black, tar-like substance known as creosote. This highly flammable, sticky matter builds up and can be ignited by embers, causing a fire within your chimney.
If you only use your fireplace once or twice a season, you might be able to get by with an inspection and cleaning every other year. But if you burn more frequently, as most homeowners do, plan on an annual inspection. And it’s really not something you should try to do on your own — this is a difficult, dirty job that requires some specialized equipment. Contact a professional chimney sweep and look for one certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
The chimney sweep will first inspect your chimney for any damage and then brush and clean it to remove any creosote build-up or other blockages such as bird’s nests. Be sure to pick a sweep that only inspects and cleans chimneys and does not also repair them. That will help ensure his or her objectivity and minimize unnecessary repairs.
The entire process shouldn’t take much more than an hour and cost $200 or less. It’s money well spent.
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