3 Mistakes Homeowners Make Regarding Fire Safety
The second leading cause of house fires in the U.S. is heating systems, including fireplaces. Many of these fires are unwittingly caused by homeowners who didn’t take necessary precautions. Along with following the top five fire safety tips, it is important to take proper care of your chimney and fireplace. This is why the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends annual fireplace and chimney inspections and cleaning.
These are three of the most common mistakes the homeowners make which put their home and family at risk.
1. Believing a Metal Liner Does Not Need to Be Cleaned or Inspected Annually
One of the reasons that many homeowners opt for a metal chimney liner is that they believe it will not need annual inspections. The knowledge that these pre-fabricated liners can reduce creosote buildup may have led you to the conclusion that they are self-cleaning. While an insulated metal flue liner produces less condensation that can be converted to creosote and a flexible metal flue liner can knock off buildup that accumulates when it contracts and expands with the weather, they cannot eliminate it entirely. Neglecting to have a metal chimney liner annually cleaned can still result in to the accumulation of dangerous amounts of creosote.
Creosote removal is only one of the reasons that metal liners should be cleaned and inspected. Debris and animal nests can still clog chimneys with metal liners. Metal flue liners are also prone to other forms of damage from corrosion to collapsing. The purpose of an inspection is to catch these problems early before they require costly repairs or put your family at risk. Skipping annual inspections after installation can actually void some warranties metal liner.
2. Neglecting Yearly Inspections when the Fireplace is Used Infrequently
Saving money by skipping an annual inspection when you use your fireplace infrequently may seem logical but it could have a great cost in the long run. Even unused chimneys are susceptible to many forms of damage that can compromise the structural integrity of your chimney and damage your home. One of the most common problems is water damage from excess moisture that has seeped into your chimney because of cracks in the mortar, inadequate sealing or a broken chimney cap. This excess moisture can eventually collapse your chimney and do irreversible damage to walls, ceilings and floors surrounding your chimney. While most homeowners cannot recognize the warning signs of these problems until they have seriously progressed, professional chimney sweeps are able to catch them early. The earlier these problems are caught, the more you can save on repairs.
Having your fireplace and chimney regularly cleaned and inspected are also the best ways to prevent a future chimney or house fire. The longer you go without an annual inspection, the more likely it is that your chimney may catch fire when you do use it because of animal nests, debris or creosote that you are unaware of.
3. Do-It-Yourself Inspections & Cleaning
With so much information available on the internet, more and more homeowners are trying to be self-sufficient and do their own home maintenance. Without specialized equipment and formal training you may unwittingly put your home at risk by choosing to clean and inspect your chimney yourself.
Home remedies like cleaning your chimney out with the top of a pine tree or dropping a burlap sack of bricks down your chimney are creative but not affective. Creosote is a sticky, tar-like substance. Though it can appear flaky and easy to remove, it is often much more challenging to clean out than it looks. Professional certified chimney sweeps have specialized equipment that allows them to remove creosote more thoroughly than homeowner’s home remedies. While your chimney might look clean to you, it may still have hazardous amounts of creosote clinging to the sides.
The trained eye of a professional chimney sweep is also able to recognize problems that you might overlook. Little cracks in your mortar or discoloration that seem normal to you might actually be the warning signs of larger problems. Chimneys are more complex than they seem which is why professional chimney sweeps take intensive courses to understand them and recognize signs of damage. This is one area where it is best to rely on professionals. Protect your family from potential chimney fires and costly repairs by relying on the expertise of a professional chimney sweep.
Avoiding these three mistakes can save you thousands of dollars in damages and help you to prevent a dangerous chimney fire that spreads to your home. If you would like to talk to a professional certified chimney sweep or setup an appointment for a cleaning or inspection, contact one of our chimney specialists. They would love to answer your questions or put their expertise to work for you.