September is here and with it the anticipation of the Fall season and cooler months. For those of us with fireplaces, it is time to ensure they are in working order before lighting them up after several months of being dormant.
In the United States there are over 358,000 home fires which occur each year, 6% of these occur as a result of an improperly maintained chimney. Here are some facts about chimney fires:
- Majority of chimney hazards go undetected
- Fires from a chimney can reach over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit
- Once the first fire occurs it is likely it will happen again, if no steps are taken to remediate and mitigate the issue
Signs of a potential chimney fire include:
- Cracks in flue tiles or masonry
- Discolored chimney cap
- Warped metal or the damper
- Creosote flakes
Preventing a chimney fire can be done by following these steps:
- Only use dry wood
- Do not burn trash or large pieces of cardboard in the fireplace
- Inspect the chimney regularly for holes and cracks
- Use a fireguard to protect against hot embers from entering the living space
- Ensure there is proper ventilation
- Allow the ash to cool before scooping it out of the fireplace
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in front of the fireplace and a smoke detector on every level of your home
- If necessary, hire a professional chimney sweep
Should you hire a chimney sweep ensure you hire a certified professional. A website stating the company is "certified" does not necessarily mean they are "certified". Visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America for additional information on what to look for before you hire someone for the job.
Taking a few safety steps can prevent you from losing your home, your possessions, and a lifetime of memories from going up in smoke. However, if the unthinkable happens Edison Insurance Company will stand by you to get you back to where you were before the fire. Talk to your agent to ensure you have the coverage you need in the event of a total loss.