A fireplace is a beautiful addition to any home, but if it isn’t properly maintained, it can become a safety hazard. Regular maintenance will ensure that both the chimney and fireplace are safe for use. The best time to have your fireplace inspected is during the fall before you start using it regularly in the winter season. However, it’s not too late to schedule a chimney and fireplace inspection. We suggest asking your neighbors, family, and friends for referrals for a reputable chimney and fireplace inspection business local to you.
Three of the most common safety issues people experience are:
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Chimney Fires
- Premature Failure of the Chimney and Fireplace Structure
Here are a few steps you should take to keep your chimney and fireplace maintained for your home’s safety:
- Inspect it Yourself – Your eyes are one of your best tools and the first thing you should do is look for potential chimney and fireplace issues from both the inside and outside of your home.
- The Inside – Check that the fireplace flue damper opens, closes, and seals correctly. If it doesn’t seal all the way, you’ll lose a great deal of heat when it’s not in use. With the damper open, look for any debris in the flue such as branches or a bird's nest that could accelerate a fire in the chimney.
- The Outside – Give your chimney cap a good review. Is it in place and in good shape? If it’s been damaged or missing entirely, rain, snow, and animals can find their way in. The cap also prevents embers from landing on your roof when the fireplace is in use. Clear the chimney for any debris, tree branches hanging too close and verify the roof flashing is tight against the chimney.
- Clean the Chimney – Many people handle this part themselves, but you could also hire this out. It’s imperative to clean your chimney and fireplace thoroughly at least once a year. This can help reduce the risk of chimney fires by removing creosote buildup, which reduces chimney flue temperatures and keeps carbon monoxide levels down inside your home. Creosote buildup frequently starts from incomplete combustion in wood-burning devices that are not vented chimneys. By getting your chimney cleaned you will also protect the health of everyone inside your home, as carbon monoxide is lethal if there are not enough oxygen levels to support life.
- Schedule a Professional Inspection – It’s important to have the chimney inspected annually for any potential problems that may need further attention to ensure safety when the chimney is in use. This is especially true for wood-burning fireplaces because these chimneys are not sealed like gas or electric models and carbon monoxide can enter inside if there isn’t enough oxygen level or ventilation present. By having it checked you will be able to avoid any kind of potential health problems related to carbon monoxide poisoning. The inspector will also check for structural damage and make recommendations for any repairs. The average cost of a chimney and fireplace inspection is a couple of hundred dollars. Do you have a gas-burning fireplace instead? Although a low maintenance alternative to a wood-burning fireplace, these should also be inspected for cracks and correct gas log positioning and then tested to ensure it’s working properly.
If you suspect a chimney fire, call 911 immediately! Discontinue using your fireplace and if you have time, try to keep the fire from spreading by closing doors or windows near it. Also, make sure that no one goes inside your home until authorities arrive. There’s always a chance that electrical wiring issues or chimney structural issues could allow the fire to travel inside your walls.
Minor but regular maintenance of your chimney and fireplace is the key to safe operation for years to come. Neglecting to do this can lead to expensive repairs all at once as well as put you and your family in harm’s way.
If you or a loved one have experienced injury, property damage, or death from a fire, you may be entitled to compensation. Let us help you get through this difficult time. Contact us today at (405) 433-7414 to get started on your free case evaluation.