The first real feel of fall is just now starting to remind us of colder temperatures to come across much of the country. People are turning on furnaces, and using fireplaces and wood stoves possibly for the first time this fall. Before we start relying on these appliances full time in the dead of winter it’s a good idea to make sure they are working properly and are safe.
If you are going to use a fireplace whether wood burning or gas, you should have those inspected once a year and before you fire them up for the first time in fall.
For fireplaces, chimney fires are a real concern. If you use a gas fireplace, then there is good news, as these chimneys rarely, if ever, need to be cleaned, since gas is 100-percent combustible and doesn’t leave any residue behind.
Wood burning stoves and fireplaces are more prone to chimney fires and blockages that can be dangerous.
Blockages in chimneys can happen for many reasons from animals nesting or other debris in the chimney to bricks themselves coming loose and blocking part of the pathway.
Chimney fires are a real threat because of the creosote build up that happens when used. This creosote is flammable and needs to be cleaned out periodically depending on how much you use your fireplace.
Blocked chimneys also bring a risk of carbon monoxide and other fumes.
A clogged chimney will not allow these dangerous gasses to escape and they can enter your home unnoticed.
Carbon monoxide is invisible, odorless, and tasteless and can cause nausea, headache, shortness of breath, and vomiting. Prolonged exposure to this gas can lead to organ failure, brain damage and death.
Carbon monoxide detectors and alarms are something you should consider if you use a fireplace in your home.
Portable heaters can also be fire hazards and improper use causes numerous fires every year.
When using space heaters electric or otherwise there should be at least 3 feet of clearance all around the heater.
Meteorologist Mike Morrison