Chimney Blog October 2015

Holiday Safety Tips for Fireplace Owners

Posted On: October 26, 2015

It’s that time of year again, when we start to plan our holiday gatherings. We always look forward to sharing the holidays with family and friends. They are festive times and it gives us a chance to showcase our homes and our creative decorating skills. But holidays are also the time when we have to be especially cognizant of safety, especially if there is a fireplace in the home.  

Fireplaces are grand and add to the ambience of our gatherings. They are especially appreciated on cold nights and can add elegance to our homes. They also lend themselves to the artist in each of us when it comes to holiday decorations. It’s as if they were designed to showcase our skills. They can be a wonderful addition but they can also ruin a party if good safety practices are not adhered to.

Always ensure that your fireplace is clean, the flue is open, and the chimney is clear of debris. The chimney is there to ensure that there is adequate ventilation. A choked chimney can cause smoke to billow into your home and can release harmful toxins. No one invites carbon monoxide to their parties.

Be sure that your decorations are a fair distance from the front of your fireplace. This is particularly true of wood burning fireplaces because the embers from that crackling fire can escape and ignite the decorations. Always keep the fireplace screen in place. It will help to minimize flying embers.

Make sure that your Christmas tree is a safe distance from your fireplace as well. If you are inclined to throw the boughs that may drop from your tree, into the fireplace, don’t! Dry evergreen boughs act as tinder and can flame out of control, shooting sparks into the room or up the chimney to ignite the creosote.

When you are tending to the fire, avoid wearing loose clothes or dangling sleeves. And though “fire salts” are fun as they change the color of the flames, keep them out of the reach of children; eating them can cause gastrointestinal problems and would certainly put a damper on your holiday gathering.

Whether you have a gas fireplace or a wood fireplace, keep children a safe distance from the screen or the glass doors. They get quite hot and can easily burn a child.

Fireplaces bring warmth and charm to any home, and practicing good fireplace safety can make your event a memorable one.

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Keep Your Fireplace Ready for Use

Posted On: October 15, 2015

As you may have noticed, we are rapidly approaching the time when all good parties with a fireplace start to consider its use. Yes, it’s getting cold out and not much gives your home that warm and snug quality like a beautifully burning fire in your fireplace. Having a lovely fire to brighten up your home does take a little maintenance to ensure that the fire urns bright, lively and where it belongs – in the fireplace.

This year, before you stoke up that first fore, we recommend that you take a few steps to be sure it burns safely and brings your family the beauty and benefits of this lovely part of your home.

Many people forget that the ashes have to be cleaned out of the fireplace itself and the clean-out door at the base of the flue where the excess ashes go. Your clean-out door is usually in the basement or outside the house. Always use a shovel to do this. Many fireplace accessories come with a shovel that will do the job well.

Once you’ve cleaned it out, take a hand mirror and examine the inside of the flue to see if there are any cracks, holes or a build-up of soot. Yes, if you see any of this you should call a professional. Do not try to fix it yourself.

Check around your fireplace for any damp spots or stains. These can indicate a damaged chimney near the roof line or a liner that is damaged. Again, call a chimney professional if you see evidence of a problem. No Dick van Dyke will not clean it out, you’ll have to get someone else. Since we want to make sure you use a qualified and reputable service we would be remiss if we didn't recommend oursevelves.  

Go outside and check to make sure that no birds have made a nest in your chimney. If you don’t have a chimney cap, and you see a nest, this might be the time to get one installed. While you’re out there, check the chimney to be sure no bricks are missing or loose and that it is standing straight and tall.

As for your fireplace, before you light a fire, make sure your damper opens and closes easily and doesn’t have a heavy soot buildup. If it does, call the chimney sweep. The damper is important. If it isn’t in proper working order smoke and/or carbon monoxide can enter your home. Nothing can ruin a fine family dinner like smoke billowing out of your fireplace.

Enjoy The Holiday Season Safely,

Always Affordable Chimney, Inc.

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Does Your Fireplace And It's Chimney Leave Your Home Cold and Damp?

Posted On: October 12, 2015

That Can Be Fixed!

A fireplace is a joyous addition to your home. It brings warmth and a cozy ambience, and can even help save on your heating bills. It has few parts and is simple to maintain, but if something goes wrong, you should address it directly. Aside from the danger of fire, a fireplace that has components that are dirty, broken or in poor working condition, can cause cold and dampness to enter your home.

Your fireplace is composed of a firebox, where the firewood is burned, a chimney, where the flue is located, and the damper which controls the amount of outside air that can get into your home. The damper is contained in the flue, which is simply a chute for the smoke to escape.

When your fireplace is working properly, you start the fire and the smoke goes up the flue and out of your home. But if something isn’t working properly, cold air can enter your home and bring with it the dampness from outside.

If you start your fire and the smoke comes in your home, first check to see that the damper is fully open. Many people think that if they partially close the damper, it will heat the house better, but that isn’t true. The damper must be fully open for the fireplace to work properly.

If you feel cold air or damp air coming from your fireplace when you don’t have a fire going, it could be that you forgot to close the damper after the last use. The damper is a flap that sits inside the flue. Its purpose is to prevent cold air from entering your home and to control the intensity of the fire in your fireplace by limiting the amount of oxygen that gets to your fire.

If the chimney breast is damp, you could have other issues. There could be a crack or split in your chimney stack mortar that is allowing moisture to get into your home. You could have a chimney pot that is blocked. If the chimney pot gets blocked, it will create condensation that will roll down the chimney stack. You may notice that the base of the chimney breast is damp. If this is the case, the pot needs to be unblocked, or, to prevent this from happening in the future, you may want to install a ventilated cap.

Either way, whatever the problem, a chimney professional can handle the problem and return your fireplace to good working order. 

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