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Chimney safety urged this week


UNDATED (WSAU) - The weather is cooling off, which means your furnace, wood stove, or fireplace will be heating up soon. That means time to check your chimney.

Ashley Eldridge is with the Chimney Safety Institute of America. He says you need to be sure the chimney flue is cleared of deposits and obstructions so the exhaust gases can be safely transferred outside of your home. “Even a gas fireplace, if it’s blocked, the gas will spill into the living space and potentially carry carbon monoxide into the house. It’s not just creosote and wood burners that need to be attended to. Everybody that has a combustion appliance should be aware.”

Eldridge says you may choose to stop using some appliances, but others are hard to do without. “If you have a problem with your fireplace, you can choose not to use it, but when the thermostat calls for heat, that furnace or boiler is going to come on, and the chimney better be prepared to perform the way it’s intended.”

Some older chimneys don’t have a lined flue, which Eldridge says makes maintenance even more important to keep it structurally solid. “Deposits from any appliance tends to be rather acidic, which works on the basic nature of the lime mortar in the chimney. Over time, those unlined chimneys tend to be quite old, probably a hundred years old, so they’ve had plenty of time to deteriorate, so it’s really important that the chimney have a liner in there.”

The older chimneys also have another problem. Eldridge says the bricks and lime-based mortar often absorb dangerous substances. “In addition to being rough on the interior and potentially shedding a lot of the mortar, many of those older chimneys have combustibles that are either in contact with or embedded in the chimney.”

This week is national Chimney Safety Week. Eldridge encourages property owners to go online to find a certified chimney inspector who knows what to look for.