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Check Your Chimney, Save Lives and Money

As fireplaces are being used more in this weather, the dangers are all too real.


The Folllowing information is also posted on the Berwyn Fire Company's webiste:

The Berwyn Fire Company would like to relay chimney fire safety information from our colleagues at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

A chimney fire in action can be impressive. It has been described variously as creating a loud cracking and popping noise, dense smoke, and an intense smell. Chimney fires can burn explosively – noisy and dramatic enough to be detected by neighbors or people passing by. Flames or dense smoke may shoot from the top of the chimney. Homeowners report being startled by a low rumbling sound that reminds them of a freight train or a low flying airplane. However, those are only the chimney fires you know about. Slow-burning chimney fires don't get enough air or have fuel to be dramatic or visible. But, the temperatures they reach are very high and can cause as much damage to the chimney structure – and nearby combustible parts of the house. With proper chimney system care, chimney fires are entirely preventable.

Common Repairs:

The purpose of your chimney is two-fold. It must remove harmful byproducts created when fuel is burned, and it must carry excessive heat away from combustible items near the fire. Besides being cleaned and inspected each year, your chimney will also need occasional repairs to ensure that it is performing these functions properly. Repair work can be done by masons or fireplace professionals.

• Firebox repointing and rebuilding—the firebox is the brick area where you build your fire; loose bricks and degraded mortar should be repaired.
• Mortar crown repair—the mortar crown is the concrete like surface at the top of your chimney that keeps water out of your flue; a cracked or broken mortar crown should be repaired immediately to avoid serious water damage.
• Damper repair—A damper closes the flue when you aren't using the fireplace so heat doesn't escape through the chimney.
• Flue repair —the flu is the internal part of the chimney that funnels exhaust from your fireplace to the outside; if it cracks, breaks, or is blocked by debris or creosote build-up it is a safety hazard that needs to be repaired.

Other Safety Tips:

• Do not bank fires or close dampers to prolong burning.
• Burn properly aged wood, not green wood.
• Burn fires hot to minimize creosote buildup.
• Regularly check the outside parts of your chimney and any connection points for any visible damage.
• Have your chimney annually inspected by a professional for any structural damage, and cleaned as needed.

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