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Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance

The most recent statistics show that fireplace fires cause more than 68,000 home fires annually. Without proper maintenance and cleaning, your newspaper kindling could quickly turn into a disaster, causing thick black smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) to enter your home, endangering the lives of you and your loved ones.

Your fireplace is the perfect way to keep warm and cozy as the weather begins to cool. Keep friends and family safe and healthy by following these tips to prevent a fireplace fiasco:

  • Call a Professional
    Have a professional chimney sweep inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney every year. It may not appear as though anything is wrong, but there's a whole lot more going on inside the chimney than you may think. Visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America at www.csia.org for information on contacting a chimney sweep professional in your area.
  • Keep Critters Out
    Birds and other animals like to live in warm areas when the weather gets cooler, and the chimney is one of the first places they'll call "home." Install a chimney cap to prevent animals and debris from getting in. Construction materials range from practical wire mesh to more elaborate and decorative brass and bronze. A brief consultation at your local Ace store will help you find one that meets your needs while keeping unwanted visitors at bay.
  • A Flue that Works for You
    When lighting a fire, always be sure that the flue has been opened properly, and likewise, make sure it closes tightly after the fire has been extinguished. This not only minimizes health and safety risks but can also lower energy costs by reducing the influx of cold air into the house. To test how airtight your flue is, close it all the way and feel inside the fireplace for drafts - if you can feel cool air coming through and cracks or crevices, your flue may require repair or replacement. Chimney professionals will often recommend installing a damper on top of the chimney, which can be opened and closed from the inside and will seal out drafts when the fireplace is not in use.

Fireplace and chimney fires can easily be prevented if you follow these simple tips. If you need any additional help with fireplace and chimney maintenance or have another home improvement question, send me an email at asklou@acehardware.com - I'd be glad to help!

-Lou

If you have any questions or comments for Lou, feel free to e-mail him at asklou@acehardware.com

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