Is Your Chimney an Extreme Fire Hazard?
Probably!! According to Barbara Rocklets of Shadow Mountain Peak to Peak Chimney Sweeps, and Mike Barnes of Sir Soot Snatcher, chimneys and wood stoves or fireplaces should be cleaned an/or inspected at least once per year! In the 1989-1990 winter season there were several chimney fires (about 25 in just the month of December that were reported) in the Conifer area alone. Home cleaning is a definite alternative to professional chimney sweeps, if you have the correct brushes and chemicals, and if you know what to look for and how to do the job. Barbara and Mike gave me some general tips on how to clean your own chimney: Go on top of your roof: clean the flue cap and flue from the top down. Flue Cap, also called the Ring Cap, must be clean and in good shape. If flue cap was not of good quality to start with of if chimney has been used a lot or improperly, maximum life of flue cap could be less than 10 years. The flue cap keeps snow, rain, pine needles and animals out and sparks in, so it s very important. A clean Flue Cap can also reduce down draft. Please check and clean it carefully! Also, when a fire is burning, make sure there are no sparks coming out of the top of the chimney. This is a very obvious way to tell that something is wrong! Then go back into the house and clean the unit and flue. · If your insert is "Direct Connect" you don't have to pull it out. · If your insert is "Non-Direct Connect" you should pull it out. · Clean your fireplace first and insert second. If you burn coal or fast burning wood, such as Aspen, you probably have a huge creosote build-up and probably will want a professional chimney sweep to do the job. Chimneys should be cleaned regularly to insure against fire. However, warning signs that it should definitely be cleaned immediately are: · There is an not a good draft (sometimes a better draft can be obtained by lengthening the chimney also) · Smoke is coming into your home (if you have a masonry fireplace, the clay tile could probably be cracked if there is smoke also). · Most of the time there is no visible sign that a chimney needs cleaning. A fire could start without warning. Some tips that Barbara and Mike shared are: · Commercial Fire Starters will keep stove and chimney much cleaner · Newspaper is ok to use as a fire starter bur avoid printed colored paper, such as Target and K-Mart ads. (Toxic fumes are released with this type of paper). · Make sure there is an updraft before starting a fire. · According to Code, ta Fire Extinguisher should be kept close to fireplace or woodstove, etc. · A Flue Cap made of stainless steel is probably a good quality flue cap. · The dryer the wood, the cleaner it will burn. Prices vary with different companies but are anywhere from $35 for a Free standing wood stove cleaning, to $95 for cleaning of an Old Fashioned Wood Stove. Most companies will do a safety check for which prices start at approximately $25. Whether you clean your chimney yourself, or hire a Chimney Sweep to do it, please do it regularly. The cost is nothing compared to what could happen.