Chimney Safety

Like many folks, Naperville resident Ginger Ovens likes to burn a fire several times a week during the winter months.

“I like the crackling of the fire, the way it smells, the way it looks, the ambiance of the fire,” said Ovens.

This time of year, lighting up the fireplace is a popular way to stay comfortable as temperatures drop.

But every year, there are more than 24,000 chimney fires nationwide.

“When you burn wood, you produce creosote and creosote will build up inside the flu,” said Jim Collins, Owner of Naperville Chimney Sweeps. “You could go 20 years without ever having a chimney fire and the buildup could never be a problem. But if the conditions are met & the creosote does catch fire, depending on the type of chimney, there could be a very damaging chimney fire.”

That’s where the Naperville Chimney Sweeps come in.

The group of off-duty firemen will be busy over the next few months, cleaning more than 900 area chimneys and fireplaces using a vacuum and brush attached to a long pole.

So how often should you have a good chimney sweep done?

“Typically when you buy your wood from a vendor here, you’ll get about 225 pieces of wood and it should be stacked about 4 feet high by 8 feet wide,” said Collins. “Once that stack’s burned up, that’s the guideline everybody goes by to get it swept.”

The firefighters and chimney sweeps also offer homeowners ways they can continue to protect their family and property.

One tip: Pre-heat the flu before every fire by lighting a match.

“If you preheat the flu, you are reversing the draft and heating up the flu so that the draft is now going up and out, rather than down and in,” Collins said.

And while you may not need the warmth of a fire during the spring and summer, you may still want to periodically light the fireplace throughout the year to dry out the flu.

“Moisture, rain, snow, all that stuff can get inside and that can eat up the mortar joints inside there, which then have to be tuck pointed or replaced so that’s when you’ll have to contact a mason,” said Collins. “When you start talking to masons, that gets to be really expensive. So by drying out the flu and having a fire even during the summertime, it’s really a good idea.”

The sweeps also remind residents to check that their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working and have fresh batteries. A fire extinguisher should be kept a good distance away from the fireplace, should the fire get out of control.

It’s also a good idea to cover the chimney with a cap to keep it free from snow or water.

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