Springtime is a good time to get your chimneys checked! Sweeps are generally less busy in the spring (vs. the crazy fall season) and if your chimney needs repairs, they can be made before the cold weather hits.
Ever wonder what wood is the best to burn as firewood? Oak is an American favorite, other hardwoods are also a good choice. You can burn other softer wood also, as long as it is split and dried long enough. It's much more important to burn dry wood than to worry about what kind of wood it is.
Have your chimney checked every year (no matter how you heat your home) to make sure the chimney can do its job to properly vent hot, toxic gases and carbon monoxide from the heating system to the outdoors.
Gas logs release a lot of water vapor when they are burning. You should be wary of mold and mildew, especially if you have asthma and respiratory problems, when using them for longer than a few hours. A CO detector is a great gas-log accessory. You can find one in many home-improvement and mass chain stores.
Installing a high-quality, long lasting chimney cap on top of your flue can save you a lot of money in the long run. The covers keep out damaging moisture, which wears away masonry and steel chimneys -- not to mention that they keep raccoons, birds and other critters from nesting in your chimney.
Have your chimney sweep ensure that your chimney has an appropriate liner. Chimney liners are required in new construction to separate hot heating system emissions from the structure of your home, however in many older homes there may be an improper liner or even no liner at all!
Mild winters mean more chimney fires! It's true. People choke back their woodstoves in mild weather -- leading to more more creosote accumulation-- but many don't realize this, so they skip getting it cleaned, thinking it doesn't need it as bad as it would after a cold winter.
Chimney Safety Tips From CRAFT CHIMNEY SWEEPS
The National Fire Protection Association recommends yearly chimney inspections to help prevent fire and carbon monoxide poisonings. Keep the Fire You Want from Starting One You Don't. Chimney fires don't have to happen.
Here are some ways to avoid them:
• Have your chimney inspected annually by a qualified professional and cleaned when necessary.
• Use seasoned woods only (dryness is more important than hard wood versus soft wood considerations)
• Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke.
• Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or Christmas trees; these can spark a chimney fire.
• Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures where wood stoves are in use, so you can adjust burning
practices as needed.
• Inspect and clean catalytic combustors on a regular basis, where applicable.
What to Do if You Have a Chimney Fire.
If you realize a chimney fire is occurring, follow these steps:
• Get everyone out of the house, including yourself.
• Call the fire department. If you can do so without risk to yourself, these additional steps may help save your home. Remember,
however, that homes are replaceable, lives are not:
• Put a chimney fire extinguisher(Chimfex) into the fireplace or wood stove.
• Close the glass doors on the fireplace.
• Close the inlets on the wood stove.
• Use a garden hose to spray down the roof so the fire won't spread to the rest of the structure.
Install a carbon monoxide detector to warn of harmful gases that may be entering your home because of an improperly operating appliance or due to a blocked or damaged chimney.
Do you know what to do during a chimney fire? Call the fire department and exit the house -- just like any other house fire. Many people choose not to do this, but if the fire does spread, don't you want the firefighters there already?
The National Fire Protection Association (in NFPA 211) recommends you have your chimney checked at least once a year, and cleaned if needed. Heavy users need more frequent check-ups.
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To help reduce creosote build-up in your wood-burning chimney system, burn only well-seasoned hardwoods. If you don't know how to build a hot, safe fire, ask for tips on proper wood-burning techniques.
Do you have a smelly fireplace? Chimney Breath is most often caused by moisture, rain, or high humidity. Have your chimney cleaned early in the spring to make the humid summer days less odiferous.
If you own or are planning to install a high-efficiency gas furnace, make sure that if you have a gas or propane water heater, that it is properly vented with a flex liner within the existing chimney once the new furnace is installed, to prevent the water heater from potentially leaking carbon monoxide into your home.