Wood burning fires are comforting and romantic and can be a wonderful addition to your home entertainment. It is very important to remember, however, that not sweeping your chimney frequently can be hazardous both to your house and to your health. Here's a few tips from the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) that will help to keep you safe:
- Carbon monoxide is created every time you start a fire. There are many health risks associated with carbon monoxide, including nausea, headaches, confusion, dizziness, and fainting. If your chimney is blocked or has a badly functioning flue, this dangerous gas has a chance to build up. Poisoning from this gas causes 1000s of death every year in the US, so you must be sure and have your chimney swept and carefully examined to make certain the flue is clear before use
- Your chimney must be swept often to ward off a chimney fire. Sometimes chimney fires aren't visible and burn slowly, and they can spread rapidly onto your roof or into your walls and cause a massive fire, which could destroy your home. Your chimney becomes clogged and dirty with a tar-like substance called creosote over time. This by-product of wood burning is either brown or black and can leave a very combustible glaze on the inside of your chimney. Another factor in building up creosote is a restricted air supply, so you must remember to clean your chimney often
- If you're not cleaning your chimney regularly, you will have an accumulation of soot around the flue which stops the flue from drawing smoke upward and causes the smoke to enter into your rooms instead. Soot causes smoke damage all around your hearth, and in addition, it will soil any carpeting or furniture that is nearby.