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Chimney and Fireplace Safety

It's that time when the evenings get a bit chilly and we don't think twice in lighting the fireplace. When was the last time your fireplace was inspected or cleaned?  If you plan on using your's soon, take a moment and read this important information.

In order to keep your family and home safe, it is important to always practice fireplace and chimney safety. Follow the three-foot rule. Combustible material too close to the fireplace, or to a wood stove, could easily catch fire so keep material at least 36" away from the hearth. Below, find more helpful information about fireplaces and chimneys.

Fireplace in living roomHow often should I have my chimney cleaned? The quick simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association standard 211 says, "Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance and repairs shall be done if necessary."

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be cleaned at 1/8" of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. Factory-built fireplaces should be cleaned when any appreciable buildup occurs.

Wood Stove Emissions
Approximately 10 million wood stoves are currently in use in the United States, and 70 percent to 80 percent of them are older, inefficient, conventional stoves that pollute. Source:EPA

Today, there are wood stoves certified by the EPA to be cleaner-burning, as well as stoves that burn gas, pellets, oil, corn and coal. These same stoves are also sold as fireplace inserts, and can be added to a fireplace to reduce the amount of
emissions.

A Surprising Fact
Water causes more damage to masonry chimneys than fire. Chimney caps, also called rain covers, are probably the most inexpensive preventive measure that a homeowner can employ to prevent water penetration and damage to the chimney. Chimneys have one or more large openings (flues) at the top that collect rain water and funnel it directly to the chimney interior. A strong, well designed cap not only keeps this water out, but will also prevent birds and animals from entering and nesting in the chimney.

Posted By: Chrissy Doremus, U.S. Inspect Blog

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We're celebrating National Fire Prevention Month! Read other posts on this topic:

What is an anti-tip device? And should I have one in my home?
Unique Properties: The Chicago Water Tower
National Fire Prevention Month Starts Today!

Comment balloon 8 commentsLizette Fitzpatrick • October 07 2010 09:18PM

Comments

Lizette

I think homeowners often overlook keeping chimneys clean.  You are so correct regarding the pollution that can be released from a dirty chimney, both to indoor and outdoor air.

Thanks for this great reminder!

Posted by Deb Jamail, Galveston County Real Estate (HomeLife Southern Properties) over 7 years ago

Great tips Lizette, I would love a fireplace. Fireplaces are a rare luxury in Manhattan. 

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (The Corcoran Group) over 7 years ago

Lizette - Excellent re-blog about fireplace safety, I'm sure people are going to start using them soon.  I was finally able to open my windows the other day and turn the AC off, it's great,  but it's still in the 70's.

Posted by Michelle Gibson, REALTOR (Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. ) over 7 years ago

Lizette,

Most home inspectors are not equipped to do a detailed chimney or wood stove inspection. Unless the unit looks pretty darn good, it is recommended that there be a qualified chimney sweep involved in checking them out.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Lizette ~  This is so informative.  I was surprised that water is such a bad culprit.  Glad to know more and that your reblogged this important information.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 7 years ago

Thanks for the re-blog! I wanted to add a suggestion from one of my commenters that wasn't covered in this particular post and that is: that having a chimney sweep come in and make sure the fireplace is in tip top shape prior to listing is a GREAT checklist item for sellers. It's one less thing on an inspection report and one less worry for potential buyers!

Posted by Chrissy Doremus ~ US Inspect ~, Residential Property Inspections (US Inspect) over 7 years ago

Chrissy, I couldn't resist the reblog since so many homeowners here in Kentucky have a fireplace. In fact I bet they hardly ever hire a chimney sweep to clean them.

Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty,Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes - (Lizette Realty - Lexington KY - Richmond KY) over 7 years ago

Thanks for pasing along this great safety information Lizette. We have alot of fireplaces and woodstoves in Minnesota, and homeowners seem to be unawair of how to maintain them.

Posted by Steve Baklaich, Treating Buyers & Sellers to Full Service Always. (RE/MAX Results St Cloud Mn real estate) over 7 years ago

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