According to statistics published by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, there are more than 22,000 chimney and fireplace-related fires every year, resulting in losses of almost $97 million and 20 fatalities. Many of these fires could have been prevented through professional chimney cleaning and repair.
Chimney Maintenance and Repair – The Importance of Professional Chimney Cleaning
When wood burns, a residue called creosote becomes attached to the walls of the chimney. Creosote is extremely combustible, and if it catches fire, the flames can quickly spread to combustible materials in the walls or roof of the home. Professional chimney cleaners can remove the dangerous creosote, but they can also inspect the system to ensure that the chimney liner has not been cracked, the masonry is intact and that the flue performs as it should. The Chimney Safety Institute of America advises that chimneys need to be professionally cleaned at least once a year, and fireplaces that are used frequently may need to have their chimneys cleaned more often.
Chimney Fires Sometimes Go Undetected
A major chimney fire is not easy to miss. Flames may be shooting out of the chimney, dense smoke may be present and the fire may make enough noise that even the neighbors can hear it. However, there is a second type of chimney fire that can occur that does not produce dramatic effects. These are slow-burning fires that lack the fuel or air to grow into a visible fire. These fires can achieve very high temperatures that can be as damaging to the chimney system and combustible structural materials as an obvious fire. Frequently, a major chimney fire is preceded by one or more hidden fires that have damaged the bricks or the liner. When an unsuspecting homeowner builds a fire in the fireplace, the flames can leap through the broken areas and quickly set fire to wall studs, roof supports or other structural materials. A professional chimney inspection can discover whether previous chimney fires have occurred and whether they have caused any damage.
Tips for Safe Operation of Your Fireplace
In addition to regular cleanings and inspections by a professional, there are several things that you can do to ensure your safety.
• Install carbon monoxide detectors and test them periodically. Replace their batteries every fall. Even a partially blocked chimney can allow carbon monoxide to build up inside the home, and this invisible, odorless gas is responsible for approximately 400 deaths annually.
• Burn only dry wood that has had at least six months to cure. The greener the wood, the greater the amount of creosote that will be created during burning. Never burn pine in your fireplace; pine creates an unacceptable amount of creosote.
• Do not use your fireplace as a trash incinerator. Never burn wrapping paper, cardboard boxes or Christmas trees in a fireplace.
• Always use a glass door or mesh screen when using your fireplace. Burning embers can be expelled from a fire and catch carpeting or other furnishings on fire.
• Keep tree branches a minimum of 15 feet from your chimney. Trim overhanging branches that might drop leaves into your chimney.
• Consider having a chimney cap installed. These caps can keep snow, rain, birds and squirrels out of your chimney.
• Keep furnishings and decorations well away from the fireplace. Never leave pillows, books or magazines on the floor in front of the fireplace.
At Alpha Roofing Industries, we take the safety of our customers very seriously. If you are in need of chimney repair, you can trust us to ensure that the job will be done correctly. We have more than 30 years of industry experience. Whether you need a new roof, chimney repair, chimney flashing replaced, siding installed or new gutters, we can help. We offer an extensive range of services to customers throughout Central Texas. We offer free quotes, so just use the online form to send us your information or call us at (512) 777-1086.
We also serve the areas of Waco, Burleson, Waxahachie, Frisco, Plano, Wylie, Trophy Club, and Flower Mound, TX!
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