There is a lot to love about winter in Connecticut. For homeowners in particular, though, preparation is important. Before the time comes to shovel your driveway after the first snowfall, decorate for Christmas, or warm by the fire after being in the frigid air, get your home ready for maximum efficiency. Proper chimney preparations will not only help to cut your energy costs but will also help to keep you and your family safer.
Chimney Cleaning and Inspection
A chimney may be out of sight, but it can be dangerous to neglect proper maintenance. It’s possible that your chimney sustained structural damage due to harsh winter conditions last year. Operating a chimney that needs repair can be hazardous. The National Fire Prevention Association advises homeowners to contact a professional chimney sweep for an annual cleaning and inspection. Even if your chimney is in excellent shape, you need to be sure that creosote buildup, which occurs every time you use your fireplace, isn’t bad enough to create the threat of a dangerous chimney fire. Creosote is highly flammable and becomes more difficult and expensive to clean, the longer it builds up inside your flue lining.
Install Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
All you may need to do is replace the batteries, but having operational smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors is essential, especially if you have a fireplace. The basic recommendation of experts is to put in fresh batteries every six months and replace the devices every five to ten years. Do not put your carbon monoxide detector within 15 feet of furnaces, gas appliances, or fireplaces because a small amount of carbon monoxide is released whenever these appliances start up, and false alarms would be triggered frequently. Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, invisible poisonous gas that kills more people every year than any other type of poison. Without a carbon monoxide detector, your family could be exposed to grave danger.
Install Fire Extinguishers
All you may need to do is check your fire extinguishers to be sure they are in good working condition. In the event of an emergency, it’s a great idea to be sure everyone in the house knows how to use a fire extinguisher.
Prepare Emergency Kits
You can never be sure when a storm will blow through that may cause you to stay in your home for days or even weeks. Have plenty of seasoned firewood ready for winter, and prepare an emergency kit for your home and another for your car. If you don’t have a generator, you may want to get one, along with plenty of fuel to keep it running. Other items to keep in emergency kits include:
- Road salt (or cat litter, which serves the same purpose)
- A battery-powered radio and flashlight plus plenty of batteries
- A cell-phone charger you can use in your car
- Enough food and water to last for at least three days for everyone in the household
- Pet supplies
- Sleeping bags
- Warm mittens and caps for everyone
- Medications and first aid supplies
- At least a half a tank of gas in your car all winter
These are the basic safety preparations for winter. See Part 2 of this series for practical advice that will help you keep the cold outside and the warmth inside. Be sure to contact our chimney sweep professionals if it’s time for your annual chimney cleaning and inspection.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
formerly Nayaug Chimney Services, LLC
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110