It’s Flue Season: Chimney Fire Prevention Tips
As the first hint of frost approaches, all eyes turn toward toasty fires in the fireplace. Before you light it up, though, it’s important to invest a little time and attention to your chimney in order to prevent fires that could devastate your home.
In 2013, there were 23,100 residential structure fires related to chimneys and fireplaces, resulting in 10 deaths, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The estimated property loss resulting from these fires was more than $109 million.
What are Signs of a Chimney Fire?
Chimney fires can occur with or without you knowing about them. Some occur internally and you’ll never know about them until it’s too late and you have smoke damage…or worse. If you are lucky it will be picked up when you have your chimney inspected. Others are far more obvious and can be a bit frightening according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America – particularly when the fire creates the following effects:
- Excessive Dense Smoke
- Intensely Hot or Burning Odor
- Loud Cracking and Popping Noises
The question that needs to be asked here is what can you do to prevent chimney fires as fireplace season approaches? Probably the most important thing you can do is hire a professional chimney sweeper.
How Often Should You Have Your Chimney Inspected?
In order to prevent fires, you should have your chimney inspected yearly. Routine inspections can not only identify fire hazards that may affect your chimney, but can also discover issues that need repair. The longer you go before making these repairs, the more extensive the repairs become. Fires can prove to be even more costly as they risk not only damaging your property, which is devastating enough, but pose a risk to the people who live in your home.
Chimney cleanings should take place at least one time per year to prevent the buildup of highly flammable creosote in your chimney. People who use their fireplaces more often should consider additional chimney cleanings throughout season, according to Home Advisor.
What to Look for in a Chimney Sweep?
Not only can proper care for your chimney prevent fires, but it can also reduce the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning for your family. For you to receive the full benefit of having your chimney professionally swept out though, it’s important to verify a few things, including:
- There are no unresolved disputes involving the service you are considering (check with the Better Business Bureau).
- Confirm that that company has adequate business liability insurance (this protects your home and possessions in the event of accidents related to their work).
- Ascertain that there will be a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep on-site for the duration of your project.
You may have other questions to consider, including questions about how long the company has been in business, how many years of experience the chimney sweep working for you has, and whether or not the business has any current references from satisfied customers.
In addition to skills, technique, and talent, it’s important to choose a chimney sweep that is courteous, professional, and approachable. Certification has nothing to do with those things so it isn’t the only thing to keep in mind when hiring chimney sweeps to come into your home and interact with your family while doing their jobs. Customer service matters, so make sure you feel comfortable with the chimney sweep you hire once you’ve verified the other aspects of the service being offered.
At Insurance Center of North Jersey, our goal is to ensure that you have all the facts and tools you need to make informed decisions about the safety of your home. Protecting your home from fire damage is one way you can weather the worst Old Man Winter has to throw your way while keeping your family toasty warm and safe from chimney fires, all season long.