Is Your Chimney Ready for Back to School?
Back to school time means cold weather is right around the corner and your fireplace will be back in action after the long summer break. The HPBA recommends that fireplaces and chimneys be inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary, by a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. So, if you forgot to get your chimney swept and inspected after last winter, now is a great time to make sure your chimney is in working order.
Why Sweeping Matters
Getting your chimney swept is a critical step in maintaining a safe home environment. Creosote, a flammable substance that builds up on the walls of a chimney, can cause dangerous fires that could cause major damage to your home and family. Sparks can ignite creosote buildup and the flames can spread through the chimney and ignite low hanging branches, wood roofing material, or areas inside your home. However, this is preventable with routine cleanings. Certified professionals are trained to spot and remove creosote, along with soot and other hazardous substances.
What Annual Inspections Include
An annual inspection is also necessary to maintaining a structurally sound and safe chimney. Many things can cause a chimney to malfunction that may not been seen in a regular cleaning. Wildlife can take up residence inside chimneys and block the escape of smoke. A functioning chimney cap will keep out wildlife, water, and any unwanted debris. The flue will also be inspected for cracks, holes, or separations and any soot buildup. Your damper will need to open and close easily and be free of soot buildup. The outside of your chimney, as well as the inside, will be checked for any cracks, loose joints, or any other kind of structural damage. Water stains on the inside of the house around the base of the chimney can signify a faulty flue liner, which is also checked during the inspection. Although having your chimney inspected and cleaned isn’t an exciting way to spend your money, it definitely pays off. A malfunctioning chimney increases energy bills and can cost more in damages. According to the National Fire Protection Association thirty-six percent of home-heating fires start in the chimney, two-thirds of such accidents could have been prevented if the chimney had been clean.
Steps You Can Take
There are simple steps you can take to help maintain a clean fireplace between cleanings and to keep your family safe. Burning seasoned (dry) wood is an easy way to prevent excessive buildup. You can also clean out ashes every week and trim tree branches away from the chimney opening. The installation of both a smoke and carbon monoxide tester can help keep your family safe in case of an accident. Be sure that the batteries are working in both of these devices by performing regular tests. Keeping a fire extinguisher on hand and using a fire hearth screen is advised to prevent accidental sparking inside of the home.
Taking action to prevent costly accidents will give you the peace of mind you need to enjoy your chimney this winter. Call one of our certified sweeps today to set up an appointment to have your chimney swept and inspected.