Common Myths about fireplaces

As cooler temperatures are setting in, is a warm fire calling your name? If relaxing fireside sounds inviting, there are myths and truths to keep in mind before you ignite the first flame. Allow us to explain.

Myth #1 I don’t need to clean my chimney before the first fire.

False. Not having your chimney swept professionally or cleaning your fireplace before building the first fire of the season is hazardous. First, a dirty fireplace and chimney can lead to fires. Second, it produces carbon monoxide, and finally, not cleaning a chimney regularly can build up soot and cause smoke damage. Trust us when we say, this is not what you had in mind when comfort and relaxation are your main goals.  Additionally, carbon monoxide poisoning is serious and in some cases, lethal. As well, fire damage is no laughing matter either, especially when soot claims the life of your favorite recliner and contributes to losses in your home’s value.

Myth #2: I don’t need to clean my chimney and fireplace more than once a year.

True and False. Depending upon how often you build a fire should dictate how frequently you have your chimney swept. According to the National Ag Safety Database, a chimney-cleaning schedule can range from once a year to once every couple weeks based on usage. Regardless, you should always maintain a clean chimney, and clear ashes from your fireplace before building a new fire. Doing so will not only reduce allergens, but will contribute to a higher level of safety and security.

Myth 3: Lighter fluid and other chemicals can produce a quick fire.

True. But, that should not give you license to pour them in your fireplace. Fires can spread quickly, and chemicals found in lighter fluids and other flammable products can carry ingredients that can make you sick. To reduce the risk for you and your family, consider wadding up newspapers or investing in additional firewood to keep the fire burning safely.

Myth 5: Closing the flue will conserve more heat.

False. Although it makes sense that on a cold winter’s night, you would want to do everything you can to stay warm. However, closing the flue while a fire is burning is unsafe, and can trap soot, carbon monoxide and other dangerous toxins inside your home. Always keep the flue open so that heat has an escape route.

Myth 4: If I need to leave my house, or when I’m ready to go to bed, it’s ok to leave a fire burning.

False. Fires can be unpredictable, and they should never be left unattended. If you have to run an errand, or are ready to go to sleep, the best thing to do is put out the flames with a cup of water, stir the embers, and throw down sand or baking soda. It’s also wise to wait until the next morning to remove the ashes, and store them away from combustable sources.  

Winter is a great time to build beautiful, relaxing fires, but before you light up, know the basics of fireplace and chimney safety, and consider these tips from the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Being protected matters, and preventing an uncontrollable fire is important, especially when it comes to relaxing times best spent with friends and family this winter. To learn more, or to find out how we can help you and your family relax this winter, contact us today.

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