Ensure Fireplace Safety Before Heavy Winter Use
More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fire risks when heating with wood and solid fuels. In fact, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, an average of 50,100 home heating fires occur in the United States each year and result in an annual average of approximately 150 deaths, 575 injuries and $326 million in property loss.
Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that homeowners take a few steps when evaluating a chimney sweep to perform an annual inspection or related service on their chimney or vent. Proper care and regular service can help protect families from preventable fires and carbon monoxide poisonings. However, it is important to choose the professional wisely. Here are a few questions to ensure the person hired is a credible service technician:
How long has the chimney sweep company been in business?
What is their rating with the Better Business Bureau and does the company have unresolved complaints filed agains them?
Does the company or individual carry a valid business liability insurance policy to protect your home and furnishings against accidents?
Does the company maintain professional credentials? Will a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep be on the job site?
Avoid chimney repair fraud by considering the following tips when any chimney sweep service is in your home:
1. If repairs are suggested, ask for proof of the recommended repairs and do not feel pressured into allowing work to begin immediately.
2. Don’t accept broken debris as evidence of a needed repair — that rubble may not be from your chimney. Ask to see what is broken or collapsed and make them show you. If they can see the needed repairs — so can you.
3. Do your homework. Educate yourself before the service person arrives about products and repairs specific to fireplaces and chimneys.
For more information on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline at 903.581.8373 or use bbb.org/scamtracker/east-texas/.