Having a wood-burning stove or fireplace is a great addition for a home, but it can also be a source of problems. Without proper care and maintenance, you could end up with a fire in your chimney, and this fire could be devastating to your home. If you live in a house that has a fireplace and chimney, here are three things you should know about fire safety, home insurance, and chimney maintenance.
According to the National Fire Safety Association, heating is the second main cause of home fires in the U.S., and the first major cause of home fires is due to issues with cooking. Heating causes fires in homes in several ways, but chimney fires rank near the top.
One of the main reasons chimneys account for so many fires is due to lack of maintenance. If you burn wood in your fireplace, the smoke and debris from the fire exits your house through the chimney. As this occurs, debris gets trapped inside the chimney and turns into creosote.
While creosote naturally builds up inside a chimney, it is also something that should be removed because it is highly flammable. Over time, there can be such a big buildup of creosote that a fire can start inside the chimney. A lot of chimney fires are small, and you may not even realize that you've had one, but other chimney fires can be really big and major.
If a fire starts in your chimney and causes damage to your chimney, fireplace, or home, your homeowner's insurance might cover the costs needed to repair everything, but there are several things you should know.
First of all, you should realize your homeowner's insurance company must know you have a fireplace and chimney. If you did not reveal this when you purchased the insurance coverage, a chimney fire might not be covered by the policy.
The second important thing to know is it is your responsibility to maintain the chimney. If you fail to perform the necessary maintenance on it and a fire develops because of this, the insurance company might not cover the damage. This is not saying they will definitely deny your claim; however, failing to maintain your chimney could result in a denial from your home insurance company.
To make sure your insurance company will protect you if a fire starts, and to protect your family and house from chimney fires, you should properly maintain your chimeny.
Chimney maintenance involves hiring a chimney sweep, like Early Times Home Solutions, to inspect your chimney each year. During this inspection, the sweep will determine how much creosote buildup is inside the device. In addition to this, the sweep will also inspect all the components of the fireplace and chimney to ensure that they are all in good working condition.
If everything checks out fine, the sweep will tell you that nothing further is needed. This means that you can safely use your fireplace and chimney for the next year, and your risks of developing a fire are very low.
On the other hand, if the sweep finds a large buildup of creosote, he or she will tell you that the chimney needs to be cleaned. During a cleaning, the sweep will remove the buildup of creosote and make any other necessary repairs or modifications to the system. After this is complete, your chimney will be safe to use.
If you want to keep your house as safe as possible, hire a chimney sweep to inspect your chimney each year. Your chimney may not need a cleaning each year, but at least you can be certain that you are taking proper care of your chimney.