Fire Prevention Tips: Use Your Chimney Safely To Prevent Fires
A house fire is one of the scariest things that a family can face and all homeowners want to never experience it. What they may not realize is that many house fires actually start not inside the house, but in the chimney. In order to help prevent a dangerous fire, it is important to understand the safest way to use the chimney. Following a few simple rules can help keep the home and family safe. Annual inspection by a certified sweep goes a long way toward this goal.
If the chimney becomes blocked, it negatively impacts the ventilation while a fire is burning. This prevents heat from exiting through the chimney and allows it back into the home, which can quickly lead to a fire. The best way to prevent a dangerous blockage is to install a chimney cap. This is a simple structure that covers the top of the chimney and prevents any number of foreign elements from entering, from animals and their nests to excess water. They are inexpensive, easy to install, and prevent a great deal of trouble down the line.
When wood and coal burn in a fireplace, it leaves behind a combination of chemicals known as creosote. This is the residue left behind from the chemicals that treat the material burning in the fireplace. Creosote is extremely flammable and can be very dangerous if it is left to accumulate in the chimney. In order to handle this problem, have a professional chimney sweep clean the chimney at the beginning of every cold weather season. Trying to clean the creosote as a do it yourself project can be dangerous for both the person doing it and for the home.
It is vitally important to only burn things in the fireplace that are intended to be there. This means only using well seasoned hardwood. In the best case, the wood should be allowed to dry for the better part of a year. If wood is burned when it is still green and moist, it can cause excessive amounts of creosote in the chimney as well as too much heat and smoke. Both of these things can lead to a chimney fire.
In order to keep a chimney and fireplace as safe as possible, it is necessary to keep it clean. This means cleaning up ash, leaving only about a quarter of an inch at the bottom for insulation. After removing the ash, make sure that it is cooled completely and stored in a metal container. The container itself should be stored in a space that is removed from all combustible materials in the home. Remember that ash can remain hot and pose a fire hazard for days after it actually burns in the fireplace or chimney.
Homeowners should bear in mind that a chimney fire is not just a danger to the chimney itself. If they are not immediately identified and controlled, they can quickly spread throughout the home. In the worst cases, they make their way to the roof and can impact not only the houses where they started but the homes of neighbors as well.
Many house fires actually start in the chimney and travel. The best way to avoid them is to keep the chimney clean and to use it properly. Be sure to only burn wood that is seasoned properly to avoid excess creosote and smoke. Keep the chimney clean of all ash and make sure that no obstructions keep it from ventilating properly.