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Chimney fires don’t have to happen. 

Here are some ways to avoid them:

  • Have your chimney inspected annually by a qualified professional and cleaned when necessary.
  • Use seasoned woods only (dryness is more important than hard wood versus soft wood considerations).
  • Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or Christmas trees as these can spark a chimney fire.
  • Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures where wood stoves are in use, so you can adjust burning practices as needed.
  • Inspect and clean catalytic combustors on a regular basis, where applicable.

What to Do if You Have a Chimney Fire:

If you realize a chimney fire is occurring, follow these steps:

  • Get everyone out of the house, including yourself.
  • Call 911

If you can do so without risk to yourself, these additional steps may help save your home. Remember, however, that homes are replaceable, lives are not:

  • Put a chimney fire extinguisher into the fireplace or wood stove.
  • Close the glass doors on the fireplace.
  • Close the inlets on the wood stove.
  • Use a garden hose to spray down the roof (not the chimney) so the fire won’t spread to the rest of the structure.

Dryer Vent Safety
Dryer Locations
Clothes dryers have historically either been located in basements or on the main floor of a house and generally within a short distance from an outside wall. Because of these logistics, the danger of lint plugging the exhaust duct has been minimal.

But in today’s complex and technologically sophisticated homes, many clothes dryers could be located in the inner core of the house in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and even in hall closets. These new locations mean dryers need to be vented longer distances and sometimes even with sharp turns and bends to accommodate the structure of the home. These complicated systems make exhaust ducts harder to reach and also create more places where lint can collect and pile up. Because lint is incredibly flammable it poses a fire risk.

Natural Gas
The availability of natural gas clothes dryers is another reason why dryer exhaust duct maintenance is necessary. If a gas clothes dryer is not properly vented, it can cause carbon monoxide to be forced back into the home which can be deadly.

In addition to lint obstructions or improper venting, bird’s nests or rodents and bug infestations can also plug up a vent causing potential fire hazards or carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms of a clogged clothes dryer exhaust duct include incomplete drying of clothes at normal temperatures and very hot dryer temperatures.

Dryer Vent Cleaning & Safety

Never leave your clothes dryer running when you aren’t home. Many house fires occur as a result of an overheated clothes dryer. If you are home, you have a much greater chance of responding if there is a problem.

  • The best type of dryer vent connector pipe is rigid metal pipe and adjustable elbows. Flexible metal piping is OK and flexible plastic is not OK. It’s a potential fire hazard. It melts and burns under high heat situations.
  • Your dryer vent may need to be cleaned if it takes a lot longer for your clothes to dry than it once did. Another sign is if your dryer overheats and shuts off. Newer dryers may have a safety switch, older dryers will not and your clothes may come out too hot to touch.
  • Excessive lint buildup behind the dryer or at the outside termination are also signs it needs cleaning.
  • Always empty the lint trap after every load. Check for lint that has blown behind or below the lint trap. Once it’s inside your clothes dryer it poses a potential blockage or fire hazard and is made more difficult to remove.

More Helpful Hints

  • If you have any gas-burning appliances in your home it’s recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and by the National Fire Protection Association that you have a carbon monoxide detector near the appliance and outside your bedroom door.
  • Every home should have smoke alarms. These should be on every floor of the house. It’s best to have both “wired-in” and battery operated alarms. Batteries should be checked monthly.
  • For more information on chimney maintenance, dryer vent cleaning or related safety issues, call Complete Chimney Care at 218-587-5577.