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Prevent Chimney Fires This Winter

As the cold begins to set in in Upstate NY, many homeowners will turn to their fireplaces for an added source of warmth and coziness. These fireplaces can be beautiful and serve as a secondary source of heat, but they can also be dangerous. It’s very important to know how to prevent chimney fires from happening.

Travelers Insurance, one of our key partners, is providing their top tips to prevent chimney fires this winter:

1. Keep Your Chimney & Fireplaces Clean

  • Have your chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned by a licensed chimney specialist to help ensure they are functioning safely and efficiently.1
  • Keep the area around the hearth clear of debris, decorations and any other combustible materials.2

2. Keep Fires Burning Safely

  • Make sure the damper is open before lighting a fire so the fireplace will vent properly. Do not close your damper until you are sure the fire is out.
  • When starting a fire, only use a match or commercial firelighter. Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Keep fireplace glass doors open while burning a fire. This allows the fire to receive enough air for complete combustion and to help reduce creosote build-up in the chimney. Creosote is a substance that derives from incomplete combustion.3
  • Keep metal mesh screens closed whenever your fireplace is in use to help keep embers in the fireplace.
  • Only use dry wood in your fireplace. Wet wood can increase the build-up of creosote, which can lead to chimney fires. Select wood – preferably hard wood – that has been seasoned six months to a year.4
  • Do not burn plastic: it can release toxic chemicals and cause damage to your chimney, fireplace or wood stove.
  • Never burn a Christmas tree in your fireplace, as the sparks from burning needles can increase the risk for a chimney fire. Also, do not burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper or trash in your fireplace.
  • Never leave a fire in a fireplace unattended. Before leaving the house or going to bed, make certain to fully extinguish the fire.
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing of them and note that ashes can take several days to cool completely. Never empty ashes directly into a trash can. Instead, place ashes in a covered metal container located at least 10 feet away from your home and any other building.

3. Best Practices for Firewood and Your Chimney Safety

  • Stack firewood at least 30 feet away from your home.
  • Keep your roof and chimney clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris. Prune trees and branches to keep them away from your chimney.
  • Install a chimney cap with a spark arrester to help keep debris, leaves, branches and animals out, and to help prevent burning embers or sparks from escaping and creating a fire hazard.

For the entire article from Travelers, you can click here.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposely only. There is no legal advice being suggested. The author assumes no responsibility or liability for the actions taken or not taken by the readers based upon such information.


Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash