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Inspect Fireplace Before Use

Categorized: Gardens, Trees & Forests

BROOKINGS, S.D. - Cold weather and power outages often result in South Dakotans turning to their neglected fireplace as a means of providing heat. However, if the fireplace has not been used for many years it may be dangerous, said John Ball, Professor & SDSU Extension Forestry Specialist.

"While a properly maintained fireplace can be an excellent means of supplementing home heating, or serve as a substitute during power outages, never start a fire in a fireplace that has gone unused or not been inspected," Ball said.

To ensure it is safe, Ball encouraged homeowners to have the chimney inspected by a professional chimney sweep.

"Older fireplaces may lack a liner, a requirement in newer homes and without one, the homeowners risk the chance that carbon monoxide and other fumes will enter the home rather than being vented," Ball said.

He added that without a liner, a house fire can also result.

"Any gaps in the brick can expose combustible material to the fire's heat and start a house fire," Ball said.

Another concern is buildup of creosote on the inside of the flue. This material can ignite a very hot fire. 

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