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7 Safety Tips to Avoid a Chimney Fire in Your Home

May 22, 2020

Featured Article

We all know that the weather in Ireland can be cold and damp even in the middle of Summer. A blazing fireplace is an ideal solution to that problem. 

But did you know that over 40% of house fires in Ireland are caused by a chimney catching fire? 

To prevent this danger from ever occurring, follow these 7 tips to avoid a chimney fire from ever happening in your home.

Hire a Professional Chimney Sweep

The dirtier your chimney is, the more you are at risk. Regardless of how often your chimney is swept, if it’s not done correctly then you’re putting yourself and your family at risk. For the most part, chimney fires are caused by the build-up of flammable soot and tar deposits within the chimney. This build-up can be eradicated by regular sweeping at the hands of a professional. Many people will be tempted to try a DIY job, but the statistics show that chimney fires are often created due to unprofessional sweeping.

When employing someone to complete this job, you should use a certified member of the Chimney Sweeps Association of Ireland. Such a person will issue an approved certificate and follow the proper protocol in their examination and safety checks. A clean chimney will not catch fire.

A dog sitting on a chair in front of a fireplace

Don’t Burn Wet/Unseasoned Wood

Fire statistics in Ireland show that one of the most common reasons for chimney fires is largely due to the burning of unseasoned or damp wood. Where appropriate, you should try to use the fuel that is recommended for your particular appliance. Burning wood with a moisture content of 20% or higher is very dangerous. This can easily be avoided by using logs that have been dried out for at least one year. 

Be cautious when you’re preparing your fireplace and handling the maintenance of your chimney. It’s worth noting that if a chimney fire occurred overnight, you could be at risk of losing your house and much of the contents. That’s why house and content insurance is such a vital element of security for your home. In case your present home insurance does exclude fire harm, you can rapidly include it by paying a little extra price and putting your mind at rest that your house is completely ensured.

Keep Your Fuel a Safe Distance from the Fire

In Ireland, turf is usually the go-to fuel type. But whether it’s turf, wood, coal or anything else, be wary of where you store your fuel. As well as having an unclean chimney, it can be hazardous to have flammable materials near your fire. A safe approach would be to keep your fuel 6 feet from the fire and use a fireguard to protect any nearby materials from igniting due to sparks. 

Implement a Sweeping Schedule

The sweeping of your chimney should be a regular affair – something you adhere to as a matter of habit. Once you’ve established a professional that you trust to undertake the work, it should be a simplistic, clean and straight forward process. In terms of how often you should contact a professional chimney sweep, it will very much depend on the type of fuel you use. 

If you use wood and turf as your fuel, you will need to clean your chimney most often because turf and wood are more prone to the build-up of soot and flammable tar. You should aim to clean your chimney a minimum of four times per year if this is your fuel type. 

You can always be guided by your chimney sweep if they are of the opinion that more frequent cleaning is required. You could also consult with your insurance company because many brokers will require a minimum standard and regularity of cleaning if they are to pay out in a worst-case scenario. 

A stuffed animal sitting next to a fireplace

Comply With Building Regulations

It’s always advisable to have improvements to your home carried out in the correct fashion. Similarly to the point above, if you’ve added a new fireplace and it hasn’t been put in by an accredited installer, it’s likely that your insurance company won’t want to payout. That aside, once building regulations are adhered to then you can be confident that your home and fireplace is safe. 

Don’t Dry Clothes by the Fire

If you leave dangling clothes near an open fire, it’s a recipe for disaster. A small spark could ignite a piece of clothing in a split second. Similarly, hanging Christmas stockings above the fire creates a huge risk. You can minimize the risk of fire by ensuring there are no nearby flammable materials. It’s also recommended that you do not leave fires unattended or burning overnight. Even with a fireguard, you should ensure that clothing and furniture should be 36 inches away at a minimum. A clear area is a safe area.

Avoid Burning Household Waste in Your Fire

Never throw rubbish, crisp packets, tissues or anything of the sort in your fire. These materials can spark or promote the rapid growth of a flame and hence a flash fire can start quite easily. Beyond the dangers of a flash fire getting out of control, burning household rubbish could block the chimney and cause the emission of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of fuel and it is highly dangerous.

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