Understanding and Preventing the Health Risks of a Fireplace


Fireplaces have been the area of the home where families gather for centuries. On top of being the place where many meals were cooked, the fireplace provided consistent heat and warmth to all the members of the family, whether they were chatting, singing, or reading.

While the fireplace may be the heart(h) of the home, here are some tips to ensure that your family is enjoying the fireplace safely.

Dangers You See and Dangers You Can’t

Despite the enduring popularity of fireplaces, there are plenty of hazards that a poorly maintained fireplace can present to its owner.

Regular fires can cause a build-up of cooled smoke called creosote. Creosote is highly flammable and can cause fires higher in your chimney, potentially burning away the mortar and spreading to the roof or frame of your home.

Creosote fires can be tricky for homeowners because, while they may be covered by insurance, neglecting to clean your chimney may lead to insurers canceling your policy afterward.

The greatest risk, however, is a danger you can’t see, taste, or smell. Carbon monoxide is a chemical produced during combustion which competes with oxygen for space in the bloodstream. More than 20,000 Americans visit the emergency room and more than 400 Americans die every year due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

How to Clean Your Fireplace and Protect Your Home

Now that winter is coming to an end and the weather is warming up, it’s time to clean up your fireplace and promote your family’s health.

Start by emptying out your fireplace and sweeping up any ash, soot, or debris into a garbage bag. Be sure to push all your rugs and furniture away, as the soot and ash are bound to kick up. Homeowners should also sweep up the fireplace walls and chimney so as to clear away any low-hanging creosote.

For any creosote further up the chimney, we recommend hiring an experienced cleaning company that can climb onto your roof and clear away any debris that you normally couldn’t reach.

Finally, stay safe all year round by testing your smoke alarm once a month and changing the batteries once a year. A 2 in 1 smoke and carbon monoxide detector will alert your family to excess levels of either substance in the air, allowing everyone to evacuate the home to safety.

Fireplaces are a great place to gather in the home, but homeowners should carefully maintain their fireplaces against all dangers, both seen and unseen. To find out more about how your home is protected from fires and carbon monoxide, call Northeast Nebraska Insurance today at (402) 375-2696 or visit us online to see our wide selection of home insurance policies and plans.

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