Chimney Safety

The cold fall and winter months makes you want to snuggle in front of a cozy fire or bask in the warmth of your wood stove. The last thing you are likely to think about is the condition of your chimney; however, if you don't give some thought to it before you light those winter fires your enjoyment may be very short-lived. Why? The answer is simple – dirty chimneys. Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people.

The average American will have 1 negative experience with fire in their lifetime - usually in their own home. More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as heat sources in their homes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently. Heating fires are often due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes.

Chimney fires can burn explosively - noisy and dramatic enough to be detected by neighbors or passersby. 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. Slow-burning chimney fires, however, do not have enough fuel to be as visible. The temperatures they reach are very high and can cause as much damage to the chimney structure, and nearby combustible parts of the house, as their more spectacular cousins. With proper chimney system care, chimney fires are entirely preventable.

Inspections & Maintenance
The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department recognizes the importance of annual heating system inspections and maintenance in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning. The National Fire Protection Association encourages the regular maintenance of home heating systems and their chimneys in order to keep "the silent killer" at bay. Carbon monoxide detectors are readily available and no home should be without at least 2, 1 near the furnace and 1 near the sleeping area of the home. Detectors are not a substitute for routine maintenance, but can be a lifesaver should problems occur. Always remember to have working smoke detectors in your home – they are proven to be lifesavers!