Colder weather in Minnesota has begun for another season. As unusually mild temperatures give way to more seasonal weather many will put their fireplace to work to take a bit of the cold edge off before we get into prime heating season. Unfortunately, a frighteningly large number of U.S. homes experience chimney fires each year, often times with hazardous results. There are an estimated 25,000 chimney fires annually in the US, accounting for nearly 125 million dollars in property loss.
Most fireplace and chimney fires are caused by creosote buildup, and could be prevented. EPA believes there are approximately 13 million fireplaces, 250,000 hydronic heaters, and 8.5 million wood stoves in use nationwide. Clean chimneys don’t catch fire. Make sure a professional chimney sweep inspects your solid fuel venting system annually, and sweeps and repairs it whenever needed. Your sweep may have specific maintenance recommendations depending on how you use your fireplace.
B93.3 talked to the Assistant Brainerd Fire Cheif Dave Cox about fireplace safety in light of a recent up tick in chimney fires locally. Dave says, “Always have your chimney cleaned at least once a season, more often if you burn a lot of wood, never burn green wood, never burn garbage or paper in the fireplace. Make sure your smoke alarms have good batteries and are not more than 10 years old, make sure your carbon monoxide alarms are also working. Have you chimney inspected so there’s no cracks in the flue.”
Enjoy that fireplace this season, but do it safely and don’t burn your house down while trying to stay warm.