Clean chimneys regularly

Published 5:29 pm Thursday, January 21, 2016


Smoke curling from a chimney and warmth radiating from a fireplace. That’s what happens when those items work properly.

When the fireplace and chimney are not properly maintained and kept in good working order, there are dangerous, sometimes deadly, results such as carbon monoxide poisoning and chimney fires. Although chimneys add to the architectural appeal of homes, they serve other purposes. Chimneys, and the flues that line them, carry dangerous flue gases from the fireplace (or wood stoves and furnaces) out of the house. They keep the air in the house safe to breathe.

Many chimney fires can be prevented with proper care of fireplaces and chimneys. The Chimney Safety Institute of America offers advice on how to properly care for fireplaces and chimneys. Just visit to find that advice and other information relevant to chimney fires. CSIA also recommends having fireplaces and chimney inspected and cleaned on a regular basis by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep or someone trained in proper chimney-cleaning procedures. The National Fire Protection Association’s standard 211 calls for yearly inspections of fireplaces, chimneys and vents.

CSIA data shows there was an average of 22,700 fireplace, chimney and chimney connector fires at residential structures during the three-year period of 2010 to 2012, with an average of 10 deaths caused by fireplace, chimney and chimney connector fires in residential structures during that same period. A high of 30 such deaths occurred in 2011, according to the CSIA website. Those fires during the three-year period resulted in about $111.7 million in damage to residential structures.

Several years ago, Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Chief Robbie Rose advised against leaving any fire burning at night — in a fireplace, in a wood stove — and always have a working fire extinguisher or water readily available in case of an emergency. Never put ashes and other fire debris in any type of plastic or combustible containers — use a metal one and store it far away from the house or other structure. That advice remains relevant today.

Enjoy the warmth from the fireplace and watching smoke curl from the chimney. Just remember to clean them and repair them so that enjoyment does not turn into disaster. Proper care will help save property and lives.