Fireplace Safety During the Winter Holidays
The winter holiday season is the most joyous time of the year for many families. Bright decorations on the mantle make warming by the fireplace even more special than usual. But before enjoying your fireplace during the wintertime, it’s important to get your annual chimney cleaning and inspection. In addition to that, there are special fire prevention steps to take especially during the holidays.
Cleaning and Inspection
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends getting your chimney cleaned and inspected annually. There are several hazards which are eliminated when a professional chimney sweep cleans your chimney, including the removal of soot, creosote, and glaze.
Soot is a black flaky or powdery substance that is created by the incomplete burning of logs. Soot consists primarily of amorphous carbon but also contains some ash. The less ash is in the mix, the more dangerous soot is, since carbon is highly flammable and creates a greater risk of a chimney fire.
Creosote is a substance that builds up in your chimney and can create chimney fires, as well. Creosote is smoke and vapor residue from wood that doesn’t burn completely. A highly flammable material, creosote leaves hard, flaky deposits in your chimney liner. Get your chimney cleaned anytime creosote or soot builds up to a layer thicker than ¼ inch.
Glaze is a shiny, tar-like substance which creates black puddles in your chimney. Glaze is more difficult to remove than soot or creosote, and it’s a more dangerous fire hazard because it’s dense. Glaze also sometimes creates icicle-like deposits which hang above your fireplace. Remove glaze if it gets 1/8 of an inch thick or more.
A chimney inspection could reveal that your flue lining is cracked. When there is a crack, it means that the heat from the fireplace could enter your home and create a house fire. A flue lining crack should be repaired before using the fireplace.
Chimney Cleaning Procedures
There’s no need to worry that a chimney sweep will make a mess of your home. Advanced methods of chimney cleaning combined with the special care we take in your home mean that you can be confidence that your chimney will be cleaned without leaving sooty residue behind.
Our chimney sweeps have brushes and high-powered vacuums which run along the walls of your chimney and prevent the substances from the chimney from entering your home.
We also use brushes, wire cables, and chains which are twisted and turned by a motor at a rapid speed to clear the chimney shaft of creosote, soot, and glaze deposits. Chemicals can also be used to give the chimney liner a thorough cleaning.
Other Fire Prevention Tips
• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home; check the batteries regularly to make sure the alarms are working properly.
• Get a carbon dioxide alarm which will alert you if carbon dioxide poisoning becomes a threat. This is an important precautionary step, since you can’t smell this deadly gas.
• Dispose of ashes with great care to make sure that an unexpected fire will not start due to hot ashes.
• Burn only seasoned firewood in your fireplace or wood stove. The less moisture there is in your firewood, the less soot and creosote buildup there will be.
Some tips specifically for the holidays include:
• Because they are highly combustible, don’t place wrapped packages or gift boxes near the fireplace. Keep all combustible materials at least 3 feet away from heat sources such as candles, portable heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves.
• Wrapping paper contains additives which make it burn at extremely high temperatures; don’t burn wrapping paper in your fireplace.
• Do not dispose of wrapping paper, boxes, or other types of garbage in your fireplace.
• After the holiday season, do not dispose of your Christmas tree by burning it in the fire. The Christmas tree wood has not been properly dried out for burning and may become a fire hazard.
• Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
Enjoying the holidays begins with the peace of mind of knowing that your fireplace is safe for your family to use. Contact us today to get your chimney cleaned by a licensed chimney professional and have a safe and wonderful Holiday season!
Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110