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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Keep Your Family Safe: Sweep Your Chimney

One of the things that I love about winter is having a fire in the fireplace. Yes, I do live in Arizona. Yes, Arizona is a desert, and the winter we have here is not like the winter that I used to deal with in Illinois. Yes, we complain about temperatures in the 40's. But you know, having a fireplace makes 40 degrees that much easier to deal with.

Nothing says "cozy" like a nice warm fire in a safe fireplace
There is something magical about a fire in the fireplace on Christmas Day. On New Year's Day. On Boxing Day (I'm not sure what Boxing Day is, but this is a shout out to my Canadian readers). Huddling around the fireplace while reading books or watching a movie has become a favorite winter pastime in my house.

Last week, after the kids were in bed, I started a fire in the fireplace. I always check to make sure the flue is open, which it was, and I lit the fire. Within seconds, smoke began to fill our house, eventually setting off the smoke detectors. Remember the part where I said that the kids were in bed? This eliminated that. Little E began shrieking in fear. Big A came barreling out of her room to see what the crazy noise was. Meanwhile, Big E was sound asleep, probably dreaming of being a firetruck driver. Our smoke detectors are hardwired, so to override them I actually had to dismantle and un-wire them. When the commotion finally died down, the kids were back in bed, and the smoke had cleared, I was left wondering what had caused the smoke to back up into the house.

I then realized that we had never had our chimney cleaned in the two years that we have lived in this house, and I have no way of knowing if or when it was cleaned before we moved in. I had no idea what caused the backup, but I didn't want neglect of the chimney to cause a fire in our house.

I contacted a local company, Arizona Chimney Sweep,who came out and did a thorough clean and inspection of the chimney. When the technician arrived, I made sure to shake his hand, because, after all, I learned from Burt the Chimney Sweep that "good luck will rub off when I shake hands with you" (free bag of Gatorade mix for the first 10 people who get this reference. But you'll have to come to my house to pick it up). I would have been content with just the handshake, but I decided to let him take a look at the chimney. After the cleaning and inspection, he gave me some great advice as to what I could do to prevent further backups of smoke into our house.

So my two takeaways from this experience were to first of all have working smoke detectors located throughout the house. This seems like a given, but I want to make sure that all of my readers are checking to ensure that they are safe. The second take away is to check the chimney and have it inspected and cleaned. It is relatively inexpensive and can help keep your family safe. And finally, enjoy a wonderful fire in the fireplace after all is said and done.


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