Irving Fire Department reminds residents to have chimneys cleaned and inspected

The Irving Fire Department posted on Facebook: “Cooler weather is just around the corner! Prepare your home by having your chimneys and vents cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional. Be safe from fire!

According to FEMA, dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage or destroy homes and injure people.

Clean chimneys do not catch fire. Make sure a professional chimney sweep inspects your solid fuel venting system every year, picking it up and repairing it as needed. Your broom may have specific maintenance recommendations depending on how you use your fireplace or stove.

Before you start a fire, make sure it is safe to do so. Be smart fire. Home fires occur more often in winter than in any other season.

The chimney and the flue that surrounds it are there to transport hazardous gases from the fireplace or wood stove out of the house in complete safety.

What are fireplaces used for?

Fireplaces and wood stoves are designed to contain wood fires while providing warmth to a home. The chimneys expel the combustion by-products which include smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbons, tar fog and various minerals. When these substances leave the fireplace or woodstove and flow into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs. The resulting residue that sticks to the interior walls of the chimney is called creosote.

What is creosote

Creosote is a black or brown residue that can be crisp and flaky (like tar, gouty and sticky) or shiny and hard. All forms are highly combustible. If it accumulates in sufficient quantity and the internal temperature of the flue is high enough, the result could be a chimney fire.

Conditions that cause creosote to build up:

The restricted air supply and the unseasoned wood favor the accumulation of creosote. To avoid this accumulation:

  • Do not restrict the air supply:
  • By closing the glass doors.
  • By failing to open the shock absorber wide enough. The longer the smoke is in the flue, the more likely it is that creosote will form.
  • By closing the stove damper or the air inlets of a wood stove too soon or too hard.
  • Do not burn unseasoned wood:
  • Initially, so much energy is used just to drive out the water trapped in the alveoli of the logs that it keeps the resulting smoke cooler than if dry wood were used.
  • In the case of wood-burning stoves, overloading the fireplace with wood in order to obtain a longer burn time also contributes to the build-up of creosote.

Chimney safety:

  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers or sparks from flying out.
  • Do not burn paper in your fireplace.
  • Put out the fire before going to bed or leaving your home.
  • Place the ashes in a metal container with a lid, outside, at least 3 feet from your house.

Safety wood stove:

  • Make sure your stove is 3 feet away from anything that can burn.
  • Do not burn paper in your wood stove.
  • Put out the fire before going to bed or leaving your home.
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