Chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning
In the face of record-setting home heating costs, efficiency is at the forefront right now. As many homeowners address their financial concerns by turning to solid fuel appliances, like wood or pellet stoves, the Chimney Safety Institute of America ends the reminder that the new heating patterns, including an increase in solid-fuel use, have the potential to increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and chimney fires.
According to the most recent statistics from the National Fire Protection Association in the U.S., chimneys and chimney connectors accounted for the largest share (36 percent) of home heating fire incidents in 2005, with “failure to clean” accounting for two-thirds of those fires.
“Responsible operation of heating appliances calls for annual maintenance,” states Ashley Eldridge, director of education of the American chimney safety organization. “Surprisingly few homeowners realize that the chimneys venting their furnaces, water heaters and stoves, as well as the fireplace in the living room, need to be inspected by a qualified professional each year.”
The most recent estimates available (for the U.S. alone) show an average of 25,700 residential structural fires related to fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connectors resulting in 30 deaths and $627 million in property losses annually.
In addition to encouraging that chimneys and vents be inspected on an annual basis and maintained as needed to reduce the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning due to creosote buildup or obstructions in the chimney, the organization also recommends the following winter heating safety tips:
* Ensure that new appliances are installed with the correct venting components as defined by the manufacturer.
* Install a carbon monoxide detector on every level of the home.
* Check smoke alarms. Replace batteries in both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors when clocks are reset for Daylight Savings Time.