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Ensuring Fireplace Safety for the Winter

In the cold of winter, many homeowners turn to their fireplaces for an alternate source of warmth and ambiance alike, but it's important to be sure you are operating your fireplace safely. Here's how:

In order to keep your family and home safe, it is important to always practice fireplace and chimney safety. Follow the three-foot rule. Combustible material too close to the fireplace, or to a wood stove, could easily catch fire so keep material at least 36" away from the hearth. Below, find more helpful information about fireplaces and chimneys.

How often should I have my chimney cleaned?

The quick simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association standard 211 says, "Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance and repairs shall be done if necessary."

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be cleaned at 1/8" of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. Factory-built fireplaces should be cleaned when any appreciable buildup occurs.

Wood Stove Emissions

Approximately 10 million wood stoves are currently in use in the United States, and 70 percent to 80 percent of them are older, inefficient, conventional stoves that pollute. - Source:EPA

Today, there are wood stoves certified by the EPA to be cleaner-burning, as well as stoves that burn gas, pellets, oil, corn and coal. These same stoves are also sold as fireplace inserts, and can be added to a fireplace to reduce the amount of 
emissions.

A Surprising Fact

Water causes more damage to masonry chimneys than fire. Chimney caps, also called rain covers, are probably the most inexpensive preventive measure that a homeowner can employ to prevent water penetration and damage to the chimney. Chimneys have one or more large openings (flues) at the top that collect rain water and funnel it directly to the chimney interior. A strong, well designed cap not only keeps this water out, but will also prevent birds and animals from entering and nesting in the chimney.