As the weather gets colder this time of year, it’s common for homeowners to start lighting up the fireplace more often. We know there isn’t anything quite as cozy and festive as some crackling flames, so it’s important to ensure you’re using your system as safely and as efficiently as possible to avoid a potential chimney fire.
Why are chimney fires so dangerous? Well, for one thing, they cause significant damage to your structure. Your masonry chimney wasn’t designed to withstand that kind of direct heat, so your mortar and brickwork will wear down in a hurry. As you can imagine, this leaves a lot of open pathways for smoke, dangerous fumes (like carbon monoxide), and flames to enter your home.
Another important thing to note is that chimney fires are not typically loud, obvious events. They quietly destroy your chimney system, leaving you unaware that you’re facing some serious threats every time you light a fire! All in all, preventing chimney fires is a must, and we’re here to ensure you stay as safe as possible this holiday season.
When it comes to avoiding a chimney fire, there are two main things we recommend: using the right fuel and investing in regular professional maintenance. Learn more about each of these important steps below.
Burn Appropriate Fuel
In a wood-burning fireplace, stove, or insert, harmful deposits (like creosote) are going to form no matter what. It’s part of the process, and it’s why we urge homeowners to invest in sweepings on a regular basis. That being said, while you can’t control whether or not creosote forms, you can control the rate at which it accumulates.
How is this done? Well, one way is by using only well-seasoned wood in your fireplace. The moisture content of the wood you use should be anywhere from 15-25% for the most optimal burn. If it’s over 25%, water vapors will move through your chimney, giving your creosote deposits something easy to stick to. This causes it to build up much faster than usual.
Because creosote is so flammable, it’s vital that you do all you can to minimize how much you have in your chimney. The more you have, the higher your risk is for fires!
What’s one way to know whether or not your fuel is good to go? We recommend buying a moisture meter. These devices will quickly tell you where your moisture levels stand. They’re affordable, easy to find online, and well worth it!
If you don’t have a moisture meter handy, there are a few things you can do to test whether or not your wood is ready to burn. First off, if it’s lightweight, then this is a good indicator that plenty of water has been dried out. Do you hear a hollow, clunking noise when you smack two pieces together? That’s another good sign. Finally, make sure the ends are split and dark.
If you’re purchasing wood, it can be hard to know if you can really rely on the person you’re buying from. Here’s the deal – you can’t split wood today and put it in your fireplace tomorrow. If you buy a moisture meter, then you can know for certain the wood is adequately dried, but otherwise, we advise homeowners to buy wood this year and use it next year. If it’s able to dry out for 6 – 12 months, you know you’ll be good to go!
Keep Your Chimney Swept, Inspected & Repaired
The CSIA recommends investing in an inspection every single year to guarantee optimum performance, and we feel that if you put your chimney to use every year, then it should be swept every year, too.
Why is this important? Well, remember those harmful creosote deposits we talked about earlier? A thorough sweeping performed by a certified sweep will ensure all of those flammable materials are cleared out, reducing your risk of fire significantly.
Along with this, an inspection ensures any damages – cracks, holes, gaps, crumbling, broken down parts, etc. – are spotted and addressed. Failing to get these things repaired will result in smoke, fumes, and flames entering your living space.
Trust us – paying for an affordable inspection before the start of your burning season is always better than shelling out thousands for repairs in the middle of winter. Call today to get started!
We Offer a Wide Range of Services
If you still need to get an inspection booked this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out! We’ll do our best to ensure you’re all set for Christmas and New Year’s. And, should we discover some malfunctions, we can help you out with those, too. We offer services, such as repointing, relining, flashing repair, restoration work, and more. We can also replace missing or damaged parts, and if a sweeping is in order, we’ll take care of that, too.
There’s no better crew in Charlotte and its surrounding cities. Reach out to our team now to guarantee a safer and less stressful holiday season. We’re eager to serve you soon!