Author – Dave Hannah
It seems that every year our summers end earlier. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. As our fall heating needs are realized, our chimneys, that have been idle for the last six months, suddenly have to go back into heavy use.
The summer heat has dried out the flammable deposits left in our chimney flues from wood burning stoves and fireplaces. These deposits of soot and creosote are highly flammable and when heated, can result in a chimney fire.
Chimney fires can reach temperatures of over 2000 degrees. Our chimney may fail to contain this heat and radiate these high temperatures to the structure of our homes. The combustible areas surrounding your chimney may ignite resulting in a full scale structure fire.
Many homeowners think because they do not burn wood on a regular basis, there is no danger.
Nothing could be further from the truth. As we reach for our thermostats this fall to get our heating systems fired up, the flue systems of your chimney are recalled to action. For several months these systems have been inactive. During that time there may be several types of debris and materials blocking the free flow passage of your furnace exhaust gases. You may have accumulated leaves and other types of debris such as animal nests in your furnace flue system.
Many homeowners have upgraded their heating systems to high efficiency furnaces. While sending less heat up your chimney may seem like a good thing, the problem arises when lower exhaust temperatures result in a serious amount of condensation in your flue liner. This moisture mixed with acids from your furnace soot can quickly deteriorate the interior of your lining system. This deterioration may result in blocked chimney systems and loss of containment of the mortar between flue tiles.
When your furnace flue system becomes obstructed and has suffered a loss of containment, deadly carbon monoxide fumes may enter your home. Since carbon monoxide is both odorless and colorless, many homeowners have suffered severe injuries and even death from carbon monoxide poisoning.
This fall and since 1920, when President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed the week of Oct. 9th as National Fire Prevention Week, the media, along with fire departments nationwide, will be making every effort to make the public aware of the dangers of house fires.
The week before National Fire Prevention Week, chimney sweeps across the nation will be celebrating National Chimney Sweep Week, Sept. 29th – Oct. 5th.
Your chimney sweep will be working day and night to reach homeowners and increase the awareness of the dangers that may be lurking in their chimneys. Right now is an excellent time to call your chimney sweep and make an appointment for your annual inspection. You may find a highly qualified chimney sweep on this site by going to “find your Chimney Pro.”
We all will be turning our clocks back on Sunday, November 3rd.
This is a great time to change the batteries in both your smoke alarms and your carbon monoxide detectors. Before you turn your clocks back this year, be sure you have already called for your chimney inspection to protect your family from a chimney fire and from deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
~ Dave Hannah
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