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Chief’s Chatter: Chimney Safety Tips that Could Save your Family’s Life

Tuesday, January 15, 2019 @ 12:01 AM

Posted by Jake Bauer

russ CataldoAnother winter day, in the 30s! This winter has been crazy. A little snow, a few cold days, some rain and some warmer than normal temperatures.

Those who burn wood for their main staple of heat pose a greater threat for chimney fires than those that just burn the occasional yule log on Christmas Eve. With these warm temperatures, just like the furnace not running as much, less wood is burned keeping our chimneys cooler. The super-heated gases that escape via the chimney help keep the creosote burnt off and our homes a bit safer. But now the heat is cooler with less wood burnt, the creosote begins to slowly build until it plugs off the chimney. Or, when that cold day comes, and we load the wood stove turning up the heat and a mountain of black tar that has grown over time ignites without warning. Over time, the heating and cooling of the flue can also create cracks and damage that can soon lead to a structure fire.

According to the latest statistics available, there are over 25,000 chimney fires per year in the United States. These fires are responsible for over $125 million in property damage. Chimney fires are the most common type of home heating equipment fire and third leading cause of death in residential fires.

The good news is – chimney fires can be prevented. There is a wealth of information on the proper way to inspect, maintain and keep your chimney clean & safe. Take the safety of your home into your hands or do nothing and wait until you must dial three simple numbers – 9-1-1.

Remember, the life you save could be your own.
The Chief

9 Signs That You’ve Had a Chimney Fire

Since a chimney, damaged by a chimney fire, can endanger a home and its occupants and a chimney fire can occur without anyone being aware, it’s important to have your chimney regularly inspected. Here are the signs that a professional chimney sweep looks for:

  • “Puffy” or “honey combed” creosote
  • Warped metal of the damper, metal smoke chamber connector pipe or factory-built metal chimney
  • Cracked or collapsed flue tiles, or tiles with large chunks missing
  • Discolored and/or distorted rain cap
  • Heat-damaged TV antenna attached to the chimney
  • Creosote flakes and pieces found on the roof or ground
  • Roofing material damaged from hot creosote
  • Cracks in exterior masonry
  • Evidence of smoke escaping through mortar joints of masonry or tile liners

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