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It is often the case that individuals negatively impact the environment without ever realizing it. Keeping your fireplace environmentally friendly is one way of keeping the environment safe. The below are some information to help you keep your family and the environment safe.

Wood is clearly needed to make a fire. Excess firewood is not needed to make an excellent fire. Burning large amounts of wood only wastes wood. To burn an efficient fire, properly burn your fire with seasoned wood. Excessive wood burning contributes to the reduction of trees in our environment. To learn how to properly build a fire, see our blog post, “How to Properly Build a Fire”.

Fires can emanate dangerous chemicals like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, methane gasses, and VOC’s. These chemicals can be very dangerous to you as well as to our environment. Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that results in death to any animal or even to a human if large amounts are inhaled. Nitrogen oxides result from incomplete combustion also, they deplete our ozone layer as well. Burning wood releases methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas that creates the greenhouse effect on our earth. VOC’s or Volatile Organic Compounds are produced from burning things such as trash.

Lessening your impact on the environment is simple and easy, there are only a few things to do that will help everyone out! The first thing you can do is burn pure firewood. Make sure it is seasoned (dried out) so that it will burn well and efficiently. Make sure you do not burn treated wood such as cardboard or pallets. Treated wood includes chemicals that when burned, are released into the air. They can be harmful to animals, plants, and humans. Treated wood is not made to be burned. Burning glued, stained, or painted wood is also very harmful to the environment as it releases harmful chemicals when burned. Colored or glossy paper, like magazine paper, is inefficient to burn and produces serious chemicals that also wound our environment. Lastly, burning trash is a definite ‘must not’ if you want to keep the environment safe and clean.

Encountering Chimney Fires: Helpful Tips

If you ever stumble upon the unfortunate event of a chimney fire in your household, a family member’s household, or a friend’s household, there are some key things you should know about how to put it out safely.

First, as with any fire, get all family and pets out of the house immediately. Next, call the fire department.  Once everyone is accounted for and safe and the fire department has been called, have an adult spray the roof with the hose. This will prevent the fire from spreading.

Make sure to shut off the oxygen supply to the fire. This will immediately dull the fire down. A fire cannot burn without an oxygen supply. Imagine what happens when you put the lid onto a candle when it is still lit – the flame goes out. The same thing happens to chimney fires.

If you have a fire extinguisher, by all means, use it; fire extinguishers are made to extinguish fires. By the time you have done all of these things, the fire department should be there to safely put the fire out. For information on how to prevent chimney fires, see our previous blog post, How To Avoid Chimney Fires.

Avoid Paying too much for a Chimney Sweep

While we cannot stress enough that you should have your chimney inspected at least once a year, we would like to point out that when you do need a chimney sweep, some people may not be very trustworthy. If prices are extremely high or extremely low, you should be cautious. Here are a few tips to keep away the bad guys trying to make money off of you, and how to identify qualified and competent individuals that will sweep your chimney for the correct price.

Pricing should be your number one tip off to any scammers. Remember: research, research, research! Research is critical in making sure that you do not get over charged when hiring a chimney sweep.  Know what the approximate pricing should be for a chimney sweep. While prices vary from region to region, and from business to business, you will still be able to research how much a chimney sweep will cost approximately. Look through different websites to find out how much you should be paying.

Get multiple estimates. Have a list of questions ready to ask every chimney sweep, and mark down their answers. This will help you to find someone you trust, and help you to figure out who knows what they are doing, as well as inform you of what you should be paying for a chimney sweep in your area.

The type of wood one burns directly effects how well the fire burns. Burning the correct type of wood will help the fire to burn more efficiently and will keep everyone healthier.

First, find hardwood to burn. “Hardwoods” are denser than “softwoods”, making them burn longer and slower, in turn producing a more efficient fire. Examples of hardwoods to burn are Ash, Cherry, Hackberry, Mulberry, or Oak, as well as others not listed. All hardwoods are not ideal to burn, so be careful when choosing the correct wood.

Next, be sure the wood is seasoned. This is wood that has had time to let the natural moisture it holds evaporate. Once this moisture evaporates, the wood is ready to burn. If one does not let the moisture evaporate before the wood is burned, the wood will not burn well.

Make sure to only burn the proper wood. Do not burn driftwood, as it can easily damage a fireplace due to the high salt content it holds. Do not burn household items, as they are not meant to be burned in an inside fireplace. These are items such as garbage, large amounts of paper (like books) or an old Christmas tree. Make sure not to burn treated or painted woods; the chemicals they produce are very unhealthy. These things can be extremely dangerous due to the chemicals and fumes they expel when burned.

Chimney fires are horrible. To make sure you do not encounter one in your home, there are many precautionary things you can do.

Most chimney fires are the result of creosote buildup. Creosote is a dark colored oily liquid or tar that is omitted from burning wood. It sticks to the walls of a chimney, and is highly flammable. It is recommended that once a year, a chimney should be inspected. Chimney inspectors can tell you whether your creosote buildup is dangerously high, and if you are at a higher risk for a chimney fire.

To reduce creosote buildup, burn seasoned wood, and no other kind. Seasoned wood is wood that has been split for more than one year. Burning seasoned wood will reduce creosote buildup greatly. Seasoned wood also burns the best and the longest, it is also one contribution to building the warmest possible fire.

Other tips that can help reduce the chance of a chimney fire are as follows:

  • Don’t let a fire smolder in your fireplace
  • Don’t burn trash in your fireplace
  • Do not burn cardboard in your fireplace
  • Get your chimney inspected once a year
  • Burn seasoned wood
  • Never leave your fire unattended
  • Make sure the fire is extinguished before going to bed

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