BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – With winter nights getting colder, many of you might want to start up your fireplace or woodstove. Before you do, you’ll want to make sure you’ve taken precautions to avoid a house fire.
If you haven’t had your yearly chimney cleaning yet, it’s a good idea to get that done before winter really sets in.
Lt. Joely Wharry with the Boardman Fire Department said it is one of the easiest ways to protect your home this winter.
“As the wood burns and puts off smoke, the smoke goes up through the chimney and there are still little particles in the smoke and that stick to the walls of the liner of the chimney,” Wharry said. “Over time, that just builds up. Eventually, it will catch fire inside the chimney.”
That buildup causes an estimated $18,000 chimney fires annually, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
“That’s actually what catches fires is the buildup. It’s called creosote inside the chimney,” Wharry said.
Creosote is a kind of soot. Experts say as the soot rises in the chimney and interacts with the moisture and cold it hardens, restricting airflow. Wharry said once it restricts the exhaust of the fire, that can cause a backup of carbon monoxide in your home as well as smoke.
“They’re pretty violent fires. They’ll shoot flames 10 to 20 feet out of your chimney,” Wharry said.
Firefighters advise against using your fireplace to dispose of trash. The only thing you should burn in it is wood.
“Dry, seasoned hardwoods. You don’t want to burn any pine, any treated or patined wood, wrapping paper or your Christmas tree,” Wharry said.
Burning wrapping paper in your fireplace can produce toxic fumes and dangerous fires from the ink.