Clearing the Air: How Cleaning Your Chimney Makes Your House Safer (Part 2 of 2)
In addition to scheduling regular inspections and sweepings, which is discussed in more detail in part one, homeowners can take further steps to discourage the buildup of creosote, minimize the threat of harmful emissions, and ensure the safety of their chimneys.
Line the chimney with a chimney liner made of a metal alloy appropriate to the type of fuel being burned. Make sure the liner is insulated to discourage creosote condensation inside the flue. A professional chimney sweep can install a liner that is made of the right material and properly fits your chimney.
Choose the right fuel. The National Fireplace Institute recommends burning hardwood that has been stacked and dried (or “seasoned”) for six months before use. Wood with low moisture content produces less smoke and therefore leaves fewer particulate deposits in the chimney. Never burn things like cardboard boxes or trash.
“Preheat” the chimney by first starting a small, hot fire with kindling and paper and letting it burn for 5 to 15 minutes. Preheating a cold chimney will limit condensation and encourage the rising conduits of hot air that most efficiently draw in oxygen and expel smoke.
Keep a bucket of sand or a fire extinguisher near the hearth so you can quickly extinguish the flames in the fireplace in case of an emergency.
Install a carbon monoxide detector at least 15 to 20 feet away from the fireplace. Carbon monoxide diffuses evenly throughout a room, so the detector will be effective whether you install it on the ceiling, at eye-level on the wall, or near the baseboard.