It's Time To Practice Chimney Safety
By PVFD Safety Officer Bill Geerlings
September 27, 2020

As the temperatures start to drop here in the beautiful Hudson Valley many of us will start to use our fireplaces or wood stoves for that wee bit of heat to remove the fall chill. Remember to check your chimney BEFORE starting that first fire.

Chapter 14 of the 2013 edition of National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) provides maintenance standards for chimneys, fireplaces and vents. The standards shed light on several important points. Here are a few examples:

* Clearances around chimneys, fireplaces and vents must remain unobstructed.

* Annual inspections provide early detection of problems that could cause fires, carbon monoxide poisoning or structural deterioration.

* If an inspection reveals that the chimney or vent installation is unsuitable for any reason, the installation needs to be redone to fit the standards. This may mean installing a larger chimney or correcting construction to meet clearance requirements.

* Cleaning of chimneys and fuel-burning appliance vents needs to be carried out whenever measurable deposits of creosote or other combustible materials are detected.

* If a chimney fire has occurred, extreme heat may have caused damage that cannot be seen with the naked eye. An inspection of the entire chimney, both interior and exterior, is the only way to ensure safe use in the future.

* If you move to a new home, standards dictate that you inspect chimneys, vents and flues before using fuel-burning appliances. Unused chimneys and vents sometimes become home to birds, rodents and other pests. Other hidden problems also may exist.