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Holiday Fireplace Safety Tips

Holiday Fireplace Safety - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of MichiganNovember and December are a festive time of year when many families get together for holiday celebrations. Often, these festivities involve sitting together in front of a roaring fire, admiring a brightly decorated tree or a festively adorned mantle. However, there are special fireplace safety concerns that can arise during the holidays. Following these safety tips can ensure your family enjoys a safe and happy holiday season.

Cleaning and inspection 

The colder weather that accompanies the holiday season also coincides with the heaviest use periods for fireplace. For that reason, it is recommended that homeowners have their annual sweep and inspection before the holidays get under way. National Fire Protection Association  Standard 211 says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

A yearly chimney sweep and inspection can greatly reduce the risk of chimney fire by removing any harmful deposits of creosote, a highly flammable byproduct of wood burning fires, in the chimney. Likewise, inspections can spot any problems or damage with a fireplace or chimney system, helping to resolve them before they turn into major safety issues.

Holiday decor 

Trimming the tree and decorating the mantle are just a few of the things that make a house feel like a home during the holidays. However, there are several safety tips homeowners should follow to reduce the risk of accidental house fire.

Christmas trees: Christmas trees, whether real or artificial, should be placed at least three feet away from all fireplaces or heating appliances. Likewise, real trees should be taken down sooner rather than later; the longer a tree has been up, the drier it becomes and the greater risk it poses for accidentally catching on fire.

Mantle décor: The stockings can still be hung by the chimney with care, but they should be moved or taken down before the fireplace is used. Likewise, do not drape ribbon or greenery over the edge of the mantle, as any stray sparks can ignite these decorations.

Burning and recycling 

Holiday wrapping paper, packing materials, and boxes should never be burned in a fireplace. These highly combustible materials ignite quickly and can cause the flames to travel up the chimney or out into the room. The colored dye in wrapping paper may also cause toxic gasses to be released when burned.

Trees, wreaths, garlands, and other greenery made of real pine, spruce, or other firs should also never be burned. Because this wood has not been seasoned, it is not suitable for use as firewood. Likewise, many greenery products are treated with flame retardant chemicals that leave the wood unsuitable for burning.

Fire prevention 

There are a number of common sense steps that homeowners can take to greatly reduce their risk of accidental fires during the holiday season. First, keep a minimum three foot clearance around the fireplace, including trees, garlands, stocking, gifts, and other décor. If a real tree is being used instead of an artificial tree, make sure the tree remains well watered throughout the holiday season as dry trees ignite quickly. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should also be checked to ensure they are working properly.

Having your chimney swept and inspected before the season begins is another way to ensure your family is safe throughout the holidays. Contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan with any questions you may have about fireplace safety or to schedule a chimney sweep and inspection.

When Animals Live in Your Chimney

Animals in Chimney

There is nothing cute or cuddly about animals in chimneys. Thankfully, the vast majority of homeowners realize that, even if they are not fully aware of the danger that animal intrusions pose to a fireplace system. Unfortunately, too many undertake the removal of animals from their chimneys themselves, placing themselves in harm’s way and often inadvertently causing more damage.

Removing Animals from your Chimney - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps

Removing Animals from your Chimney – Ann Arbor MI – Clean Sweeps

A Difficult and Dangerous Position to Be In

Extracting a live animal from a place like a chimney, where it is completely cornered and surrounded, is extremely difficult and dangerous. Removing a dead one, along with associated debris, droppings, and snagged tufts of fur, is difficult and altogether unpleasant. Both are difficult and both are hazardous for your chimney as well if you do not know what you are doing.

Animal extraction for chimneys should always be handled by certified chimney professionals. If the animal is alive, its humane handling is guaranteed and all involved are less likely to be injured. Homeowners worried about what happens after removal can relax as well, because animals not ready to be released back into the wild are first taken to vets or local shelters.

Concern for the animals in their chimneys is often the reason homeowners do not call for professional help. Certified chimney sweeps, however, are specifically skilled in this, have experience and love animals as much as you do! Furthermore, they are highly trained to examine the condition of your chimney once the animal has been removed, and this is critical.

Now the Animal is Gone, What Now?

The same claws that can scratch you up so badly may have done the same thing to the interior of your chimney. Even the animal’s movement and tight turns in such a small space could have damaged your flue. Extracting the animal – dead or alive – is first. After that, a professional sweep can inspect if any impairment was caused by the animal and what can be done to restore maximum safety and efficiency to your chimney.

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