PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – If you have a fireplace, it’s probably been working overtime lately.
But, if your fireplace and chimney haven’t been inspected recently, it can be an accident waiting to happen – even if yours burns gas instead of wood.
Angie’s List has some tips to keep your family safe.
Ashley Eldridge has been sweeping chimneys for decades, so poorly maintained fireplaces don’t surprise him.
“I’ve seen dampers installed backwards. I’ve seen fireplaces that were incapable of functioning properly,” he said. “Most of the fireplaces are not actually built the way that they should be built. The smoke chamber should be very smooth as it leads the smoke into the flue, and it’s a rarity to find that done properly.
That’s just one reason to have your fireplace inspected and swept, regardless if it burns wood or gas.
“No matter what kind of fireplace you have, you should have it cleaned and inspected every year. This includes gas fireplaces. Even though they don’t get soot and creosote build-up, they do have other issues that need to be attended to,” Angie Hicks, of Angie’s List, said.
Ceramic logs, for example, can deteriorate and the debris can clog vents, which could spark a chimney fire.
Then, there’s the issue of keeping moisture out.
“Water entry is the single biggest problem, whether you have a masonry chimney or a factory-built chimney, so we want to be sure that water isn’t entering into the chase of a factory-built chimney or into a masonry chimney for that matter,” Eldridge said.
Moisture could lead to cracks that affect the ventilation system.
If that fails, carbon monoxide could enter your home.
Finally, where’s your gas shut-off valve?
If you have a gas fireplace make sure the shut off is outside the fireplace in case of an emergency. If it isn’t, have a plumber reroute it to a safer spot.