As Winter Storm Uri swept through the South this past week, our area has seen record setting cold. When temperatures drop, many people turn to the warmth of a fireplace to combat the cold outside. Since Uri might have your fireplace working overtime, follow these tips to keep your fireplace operating safely. 

 

Don’t Burn All the Time

Fireplaces are built for short duration fires. Your fireplace isn’t meant to completely replace your heater, so fires shorter than 5 hours are recommended. 

 

Keep Flammables at a Safe Distance

Make sure any combustibles are kept well away from the fireplace. This includes furniture and decor. A rogue ember can quickly ignite any surrounding flammable materials. Keep any furniture or decor such as drapes at least three feet away from the fire at all times. 

 

Use Tools Properly

Don’t EVER use your bare hands when a fire is burning. Always use the correct fireplace tools to stoke the fire or shift burning logs. Fire is extremely dangerous and can quickly cause burns and injuries, so it is important to keep a safe distance. 

 

Don’t Overload the Fireplace

Too many logs in the fire can quickly cause it to become out of control. Use only as many logs as is necessary to maintain a steady fire. 

 

Never Leave Fire Unattended

It is NEVER safe to leave the room when a fire is burning. Accidents happen and can quickly escalate. Always keep an eye on your fire to make sure it is burning properly.

 

Have Your Chimney Inspected

Fire safety organizations recommend having your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year. This simple task can easily prevent accidents such as chimney fires from occuring. Inspections ensure that your chimney and fireplace are safe to use. 

 

Fireplace safety is important during the entire year. However, it is even more important during the cold months as we use them to keep warm. Keep these tips in mind when warming up by the fire, and give your local chimney experts at Sootmaster to schedule an inspection or cleaning.

 

chimney cap

Caps, Covers, & Damper Repairs

Living in the south, mainly along the Gulf Coast, then you know there are lost of rain storms. Actually, we get more rain than anywhere else in the country, including Seattle. The ranking of the most amount of rainfall goes as follows: Mobile, Pensacola, and Seattle in 41st.

This region has such a big deal about rain when it comes to chimneys and fireplaces. As the Chimney Safety Institute of America explains, “water, not fire, causes most chimney damage.”

“Whether masonry or factory-built,” says the CSIA, “prolonged water exposure can result in cracks or gaps in chimneys where creosote can collect and increase the risk of fire or where noxious gases can escape into your home and expose your family to carbon monoxide.”

Fireplaces, Chimneys and Leaks

In basic terms the problem with fireplace and chimney leakage is that water combines with the creosote that remains from fires to form an acidic mixture. Over time that mixture can eat out the silica in the mortar joints.
Once the joints are no longer secure, moisture — remember all that Gulf Coast rain — can get into the house through the chimney. For example, if water comes in through the chimney and is released under the shingles it can lead to the need for a roof replacement.

Also, without proper sealing, heat from fires can travel into areas which should not be exposed to heat, dry out wood, and in some cases actually cause the wood to catch on fire.

In fact, according to a staff report by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 22,000 fires a year which are associated with fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connectors. Such fires can cause substantial damage and in some cases may lead to fatalities.

Also, without caps it does happen that birds and animals get into fireplaces. Sometimes nests are built and in some cases animals unable to get out die inside chimneys and fireplaces. Noises and odors can result from such problems.

Caps, Covers and Dampers

You can protect your household with caps, covers and dampers. Caps with spark arresters are devices that go over the flue. They keep out both moisture and animals, plus they help prevent sparks from leaving the chimney. Covers are at the top of the chimney, go around the flue, and protect against moisture. Dampers are inside the chimney itself. They can help create a proper draft to achieve the best fire, plus when closed they prevent animals from getting into the house.

Cap, Cover and Damper Services

We can install, repair and maintain caps, covers and dampers. We inspect such devices as part of our basic chimney sweep services. We have many devices in stock and can recommend the equipment which is right for your fireplace and chimney, whether it is masonry or metal, new or historic.

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