Don’t Get Burned!
Sooner or later, winter is going to be here again. Once the cold is back, you’re sure to want to use your fireplace to heat your house and make it a more snug, comfy environment for you and your family.
But unfortunately, your chimney can be a health hazard if it isn’t properly maintained. Poorly maintained chimneys can be the cause of many health related problems, including a higher susceptibility to bronchitis, and even carbon monoxide poisoning in some cases.
But one of the other major problems associated with the use of a fireplace, is that it dramatically increases the risk of a major fire that could burn down your house. In order to avoid this from happening, you should be taking care of your chimney properly. Even if your chimney looks good from the outside, it really doesn’t mean that using it isn’t dangerous. Of course, the fact that fire is involved in using a chimney automatically predisposes you to a certain amount of risk, but it can be significantly reduced by having your chimney inspected by a professional chimney sweep.
Although getting your chimney cleaned could even be life saving, there’s been an unfortunate amount of chimney sweep scammers. In order to protect yourself from being taken advantage of, you should only work with professional chimney sweeps who have training and experience in keeping your chimney safer.
What Do Chimney Sweeps Do?
A professional chimney sweep is trained to inspect your chimney for any problems like soot and ash buildup as well as being able to find and fix other issues that might be present. After an inspection, your chimney sweep should be able to tell you whether or not your chimney could be allowing too much smoke to enter your house through your fireplace and if your chimney fulfills all the necessary safety requirements. Other potential problems could be bird’s nests or other obstructions in your chimney as well as loose bricks or cracks.
Why Are Chimney Inspections Important?
It comes as no surprise that according to the US Fire Administration, 31% of fires start in residential areas, and 7% of residential fires are caused by heating. While that might not seem like much, this statistic represents so much more than just a number for families who have been the victims of chimney fires. It’s sad to know that much of the loss caused by chimney fires could’ve been prevented if home owners exercised the necessary caution when using their chimneys.
As a general rule, it’s best to have a level one chimney inspection performed on an annual basis before you start using your chimney again. Not only will ash, soot and other debris have accumulated in your chimney from the previous year, as has been mentioned before, birds like to make nests in chimneys and this could result in a big fire.
If you recently moved to your home, a level two chimney inspection would be a better choice. If you’ve never used your fireplace in your new home, there isn’t really a way for you to know how safe it is. You can’t simply assume that the previous residents knew the chimney was safe, even if they did use the fireplace.
Other Safety Precautions
Besides having your chimney cleaned out every year before winter, there are other measures you should take to make your chimney safer. For instance, you should always keep any flammable objects away from your fireplace; this includes your pile of wood, books, furniture, curtains and even carpets. If you have small children or dogs, always check for any toys or other objects placed too close to the fireplace before lighting it.
To reduce the risk of a fire starting close to an open fireplace (one that doesn’t have a glass door), you could place mesh screen in front of it.
Apart from keeping the area surrounding your fireplace clean, you should also be on the lookout for branches that are too close to your chimney, especially if you have trees that are very close to your house.
Another good safety measure, is to have a fire extinguisher placed close to your fireplace so that you can easily put out any flames that could result in a dangerous fire. While fire extinguishers aren’t the most pleasing objects to look at, and probably won’t fit your décor, this safety measure could prove to be life saving.
Lastly, if you have a fireplace in your house, you should also have both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, especially in your bedrooms. Carbon monoxide is a completely odorless gas that can be deadly to inhale. Because you can’t smell it, many cases of people dying from carbon monoxide poisoning happen while the victims are asleep.
Hopefully you’ll have realized practicing proper safety measures regarding the use of your chimney is essential for the health and safety of your family. Nothing should discourage you from having your chimney inspected, as this is a very good measure to take for preventing a chimney fire and other hazards.
However, you should only allow a professional chimney sweep to perform an inspection and clean your chimney, as this isn’t a matter to be taken lightly. Although the best chimney sweep services aren’t necessarily cheap, it’s better to pay for a job well done than to be lured into a scam by promises of unrealistically low prices and end up getting nothing at all.
At Chimney Sweeps West, we are dedicated to help you care for the health of your family. Our chimney sweeps are trained professionals who will deliver only the best service. We understand the risks involved when it comes to chimney fires and we have the necessary skills and equipment to perform thorough inspections so that you know your chimney is safe before you start using it this winter.