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Promoting Chimney Safety for the CSIA’s National Chimney Safety Week

If you haven’t added these dates to your calendar, you probably should. Every year, during the last week of September, the Chimney Safety Institute of America holds the National Chimney Safety Week, where chimney professionals from all over the country are encouraged to promote chimney safety. This year, it runs from September 30 to October 6.

According to the CSIA, the estimated residential structure fire property loss in the U.S. averaged $6.9 billion from 2006-2008. Although there was a decrease in the losses in the Fireplace, Chimney, and Chimney Connector category, losses still averaged $128 million annually over that period of time. In 2005, there were 24,500 residential fires in the United States originating in chimneys, fireplaces and solid fuel appliances and many of them were preventable.

Those figures are certainly alarming and the devastation that residential fires cause due to chimneys is also disturbing but there is no amount of money that can replace the loss of a human life. On average, there were 10 lives lost annually due to chimney fires over that period of time. With tools such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, one life lost due to a preventable fire is too high a price to pay..

An annual chimney inspection and cleaning by a CSIA-Certified professional will ensure that your chimney functions properly and safely. CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps have been trained to inspect, clean and repair chimneys and fireplaces and have a thorough understanding of fire codes, clearances and standards for the construction and maintenance of chimneys and venting systems.

CSIA sweeps know how to inspect and service chimney systems serving any fuel burning appliance including wood stoves, pellet stoves, inserts, factory-built fireplaces, central heaters and furnaces. Since 1983, it he Chimney Safety Institute of America has operated as a non-profit, educational institution with a mission to educate the public about the prevention of chimney safety hazards.

Unfortunately, there is a misconception among homeowners that their chimneys only need to be cleaned and inspected if they burn wood in their fireplaces or wood stoves. But the facts are that almost all heating appliances, whether they burn gas, oil, wood or coal, rely on the chimney to safely transport toxic gases produced by the heating system of the house throughout the home or to vent them outside.

The most significant safety hazard of a chimney that is not in use is the air quality and air safety. If a room contains unsafe gases such as carbon monoxide from a damaged heating appliance or toxic mold spores or allergens, an un-used chimney may increase the flow upwards into other building rooms. Also, if there is a fire in one area of the house the un-used chimney may increase the speed at which the fire spreads between floors.

Homeowners should also contact a chimney professional if they believe that they had a chimney fire. Continuing to use a chimney whose structural integrity has been compromised by a chimney fire is a major cause of residential fires, according to the Mount Hebron, Alabama Fire Department. Many homeowners don’t even realize that they had a chimney fire. These chimney fires can be attributed to the improper installation of a masonry or metal chimney. CSIA Chimney Sweeps will be able to diagnose and recommend the best course of action. And of course, the Mount Hebron Fire Rescue suggests that homeowners have an annual chimney inspection as well as a chimney cleaning to remove creosote deposits that affect air quality.

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