As the days get colder during the winter months, people can turn to their fireplace or fireplace to keep their homes warm.
While nothing beats snuggling up next to a crackling fire, taking care of fireplaces and chimneys is essential to avoid potential fires.
The City and County of Santa Barbara Fire Departments have responded to several chimney / chimney fires this winter and are urging people to have their chimneys swept regularly to prevent the fires from occurring.
People who burn wood in their chimneys are encouraged to have their chimneys swept about once a year, Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig told Noozhawk.
However, for people who only use their chimney 1 to 3 times a year, “the best thing to do” is to have the chimney serviced every 3 to 5 years, he added.
“People who really use their home as their primary source of heat, it is really recommended that they do this every year,” Hartwig said.
Santa Barbara City Fire Public Outreach Coordinator Liliana Encinas told Noozhawk the department discourages people from using the fireplace as their primary form of heating, and said wall or space heaters are preferred. .
“However, we suggest that for people who use their chimneys for heat, the least you can do is make sure everything is working properly,” Encinas said. “We want them to check it regularly, at least once a year. “
Hartwig said firefighters are sometimes called in because a house is filling up with smoke because someone may have closed the chimney flue and not reopened it before using the fireplace, so he said that it is always important to check if the duct is open. also.
Leslie Rapp, office manager for the Tubular George chimney service company in Santa Barbara, said what usually happens before a chimney fire, and the reason people call the company, is that people complain that “suddenly” their house is filled with smoke.
“Soot builds up on the walls of the chimney and starts to push back, so there is too much smoke and not enough chimney and the smoke ends up coming back into the house,” Rapp told Noozhawk. “Cleaning the fireplace and chimney solves this problem 90% of the time. “
The city’s fire brigade chief Robert Mercado warned residents should also make sure their chimney flue is not full of soot, which can catch fire.
He also noted that in older masonry fireplaces, the grout between the blocks can break down, allowing sparks or heat to escape and catch the wooden parts of the burning house.
Hartwig explained that combustion products build up in chimneys over time, and some products like pine contain sap, so they start to clump inside the chimney.
“They are mostly burnt, but not completely. Often what happens is people get overzealous and load the fire more than they should, so the heat reaches the areas where it clumps together, ”he said. he declares. “It really looks like a blowtorch, the clearance around the roof, attic and brickwork is not (made) for that kind of heat.”
Quite often, Hartwig said, this heat catches other combustible materials in the burning roof and attic.
Local chimney sweeps can be hired to clean fireplaces, chimneys and flues, and inspect them for any problems.
“If you haven’t done it in a while, or can’t remember when you did it, chimney sweeps are really good,” Hartwig said. “They’re relatively inexpensive, it’s a quick process and very affordable, but what it could save is far more valuable than the price it costs. “
Rapp said the business is always very busy during the winter months as people call to have their chimneys serviced.
People are also warned to only burn natural wood materials in their fireplaces, not garbage, construction debris, or their old Christmas tree.
If people are burning synthetic wood or firewood, it is important to have it inspected to make sure they are not burning anything other than that wood, Encinas said.
Encinas warned people to put out their chimneys and put out fires in their homes at night, and to ensure that any fires burning in an outdoor fireplace or outdoor fireplace are not left unattended.