Thursday, September 14, 2017

Is it Too Early for a Fire?

I know summer isn't quite finished, but I've been seeing signs of fall all over the place. Suddenly the leaves on the trees are starting to turn yellow and red and even falling to the ground. It won't be long until they're all brilliant and gorgeous like this picture from last year. Mornings are cool, and I need to wear a long sleeved shirt when I go for my morning walks.

It seems like it happened overnight. One day it was summer and the next fall had arrived. (Let's just ignore the fact that the temperature is supposed to be in the 80s by the weekend)

These cool evenings have me pulling out the cozy flannel pants and wondering if it's too early for a fire in the fireplace.  Our fireplace isn't really a source of heat, but it's just enjoyable to have a fire going. We enjoy a fire many evenings when the weather turns cool. Since it's a gas fireplace, it's fairly easy to get a fire going, and put it out at the end of the night.
Dec 21
When I was growing up we heated our house with a wood stove, and I use that term 'heated' very loosely because we really only tried to heat a couple rooms in the house while the rest of the house was closed off and very cold at times. I still appreciate being able to get warm when I go to bed at night and not waking up with snow on my pillow some mornings. But we did survive, and I guess we have memories and stories to tell because of it.

I did not have much responsibility for the fire except for carrying in wood quite often after school. The boys may have played with the fire a bit more. Isn't that a guy thing? I remember one time us kids were home alone and the chimney behind the stove started getting hot, and the cover in the next room started turning black. We were terrified that the house was going to burn down and ended up calling the fire department. Everything turned out fine, but it was very scary. I think it was something as simple as the damper on the stove not being closed so all the heat from the stove was going up the chimney instead of staying in the stove where it belonged. I know it could have been a lot worse.

I've been reading about how birds' nests and other debris like weeds, twigs, and grass can accumulate in a chimney during the summer when the fireplace or wood stove isn't being used, meaning that the first fire of the season could inadvertently spark a blaze that could spread to the rooftop. It sounds like it's not a bad idea to hire a DC chimney sweep, or general handyman to inspect and clean the chimney and roof before that first fire of the season.

Unless you want to climb up there yourself, which isn't exactly the best idea because it can be nearly impossible for the typical homeowner to figure out how to sweep out the chimney.  It also takes special equipment long enough to reach past the stack at the very top and vacuum hoses that can extend far enough down the chute to reach everything embedded inside. Professional sweeps come to your home with all of this equipment on hand and ready to use.  Before they get started, they inspect the chimney to make sure live creatures like squirrels or raccoons are removed safely.  They can then start removing nests, grass, weeds, and other debris from inside the chimney.

I don't think we ever had any such thing done to our old farmhouse in the country. Thankfully, we survived to tell the stories anyway.