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Fire Safety for Fireplace Owners

A fireplace is a valuable addition to any east coast home, especially during the winter. Gray skies, bare trees, and a sharp wind can make the chilly season feel longer than it is, but cozying up to a toasty fire helps hurry things along. The comforting crackle and the soothing dance of flames puts us at ease and can even make us temporarily forget the long wait ahead until spring. Having the luxury of a fireplace is not all warmth and comfort, though. A fireplace actually comes with a lot of responsibility to keep the home and family safe.


The most immediate danger in a fireplace is the fire itself. Burning at several hundred degrees Fahrenheit, sometimes more depending on the fuel, the flames and embers can cause severe injury instantly upon contact. Thus, to avoid these potentially life-threatening burns, you can take a few safety measures every time you light up the fire. First, maintain a distance of at least three feet from the fireplace for any combustible materials, like furniture and decorations. You should always supervise the fire while it is lit, especially with small children and pets in the vicinity.

To keep children and pets safe, another option is to have heat resistant glass doors installed in front of the fireplace. These prevent any accidental direct contact with the fire, and many models do not even become hot to the touch, making contact with the doors themselves relatively safe. For older children, be sure to teach them about fire safety as well. Explain the risk of injury from burns, how to be safe when a fire is lit, and the danger of throwing foreign objects into the flames.

Once everyone knows how to respect the fire, there are a few more steps you need to take. To start with, always open the damper prior to lighting the fire. Most fireplaces have a ventilation system, aside from gas vent-free fireplaces, so burning a fire with the damper open is imperative. Failing to open the damper could extinguish the fire, at the very least, or fill your home with poisonous carbon monoxide, at the worst. In addition, have the chimney swept and inspected at least once every year. This practice clears out creosote deposits, which can cause devastating chimney fires if allowed to build up, and checks for any damage or obstructions in the chimney that could make it unsafe to use.

This final safety tip goes for every home, not just those with fireplaces: install and regularly update smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the house. Depending on the manufacturer, they must be completely replaced every five to ten years, and they should be tested for proper function every month. There should be one of each on every level of the house, with one outside the sleeping area. In addition, a smoke detector must be installed in each room.

By taking these basic safety tips into consideration when using your fireplace this winter, you can help ensure a happy, safe season for everyone. To receive more information on fireplace safety or to schedule a chimney sweep or inspection in the Boston area, contact Above and Beyond Chimney Service.

Choose Chim Scan for your Chimney

With winter just around the corner, everyone is looking for ways to stay warm. Wool socks, thick jackets, and insulated boots come in handy outside, but staying warm inside is another matter. For many homeowners in the Boston area, keeping warm in the house means lighting a fire in the fireplace or stove. To keep these heating appliances running smoothly, homeowners must keep up to date on chimney cleaning and maintenance. With the latest Chim Scan technology, caring for the chimney has never been easier.


Dating back to 1984, the closed circuit internal evaluation system known as Chim Scan technology has helped countless people examine hard to reach spaces in their homes, appliances, and machinery. Made by Estoban Corporation, these chimney cameras and cleaning tools can fit into a wide range of flue sizes, from three inch venting pipes to 13 by 18 inch fireplace flues. Larger chimneys can be inspected with the addition of special supporting equipment.

Because of the construction and functional shape of a chimney, properly examining every aspect of the interior is impossible even with sunshine or powerful artificial lights. The Chim Scan camera has the ability to travel up through the chimney and record images of the interior. While the annual chimney sweep and regular visual inspection can help keep the chimney safe and functional, a mason on the ground or the roof cannot possibly identify every issue within the chimney.

Problems like built up soot or a deteriorated flue lining may go unseen in a basic inspection, and such unintentional neglect can have serious consequences. The soot in the chimney comprises mainly of creosote, a flammable and carcinogenic by-product of combustion. It builds up in any chimney that uses non-electric fuel and must be cleaned out often. Creosote can reduce the venting ability of the chimney, forcing toxic fumes like carbon monoxide back into the home, and it can also catch fire, resulting in a dangerous chimney fire. A deteriorated flue lining also causes its fair share of trouble. The flue lining protects the house and chimney from the heat of the fire and from water that may leak into the chimney. A damaged lining exposes the home to these elements and can lead to water damage and house fires.

With a video scanner like Chim Scan, the mason can easily detect problems like creosote buildup and flue lining damage. That way, the homeowner can take care of them before any severe damage occurs. If you live in the Massachusetts counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth or Barnstable and want a Chim Scan video scan done on your chimney, contact Above & Beyond Chimney Service to schedule an appointment. Winter is almost here, so have your chimney checked before lighting your next fire!

Regular Chimney Sweeps Means a Safer Home

Fall weather has officially rolled in. The chilly wind has colorful leaves falling to the ground and has us starting to bundle up. With the cooler weather comes the time to start thinking about heating your home. While some have the luxury of a gas powered furnace, many homes in the Boston area are older and utilize wood-burning fireplaces or stoves. These units need to have their chimneys swept at least once per year, especially if they are used regularly. Even if you do not need your fireplace for heat but plan to use it during the cold season anyway, you should also schedule an appointment to have your chimney swept this season. Experts recommend having your chimney professionally swept at least once every year, and for good reason. A chimney that goes too long without proper attention can cause some serious problems.


A chimney sweep serves two main purposes. The first is to find and eliminate any obstructions in the chimney. Particularly if you have not have your chimney swept since last burning season, little critters have had plenty of time to make a home out of your chimney. During the colder months, animals like birds and squirrels are attracted to the warmth confines of the chimney and will build nests there to live in. The main issue with animals and nests is your chimney is that these obstructions do not allow the chimney to vent gas properly. Smoke and toxic gases like carbon monoxide are meant to escape the home out the chimney, but when an obstruction blocks that flow, the gases turn back and fill the house up. This reason alone should be enough incentive to sweep your chimney.

The second purpose of a chimney sweep is to remove the creosote. This tarlike material results from burning wood, and it readily adheres to the flue lining. If creosote is allowed to build up, it can cause an obstruction in the chimney – causing the same problems as an animal nest. Creosote is also highly flammable, so allowing it to build up can also create a chimney fire hazard. In addition, creosote has a variety of health risks like causing cancers and birth defects, so letting it grow to unsafe levels can make your home dangerous to your health.

Having your chimney swept at least once every year is crucial to maintaining a safe and healthy home. If you are ready to have your chimney swept and live in the areas of Boston, South Shore, or Cape Cod, contact Above and Beyond Chimney Service for a professionally consultation. Expert service gets you expert results.

My Chimney Stinks!

Are you sick of breathing in that foul smell coming from your fireplace and chimney? All you have to do is call, and we'll get rid of that stench once and for all.

Are you sick of breathing in that foul smell coming from your fireplace and chimney? All you have to do is call, and we’ll get rid of that stench once and for all.

Fireplace smells and chimney odor problems can be attributed to a handful of different things. The root cause of the majority of fireplace smells, however, is creosote deposits—a natural byproduct of burning wood—inside your chimney. The odors are usually worse in the summer when the humidity is high, on rainy days, and/or when your air conditioner is running. Our CSIA-certified chimney sweep can help minimize your fireplace and chimney odors, thereby improving your home’s air quality in the process.

The Hidden Source of Your Chimney Odors

Believe it or not, even after having your chimney professionally swept, you can still have odor issues. Creosote absorbs into the porous masonry construction inside your chimney, embedding the fireplace smell deep beyond the masonry’s surface. A chimney sweep will remove the surface buildup of creosote to limit the possibility of a chimney fire; however, the odors that have absorbed into the masonry itself will remain. The key now is to simply keep the unpleasant odors from entering your living spaces.

Draft Issues Bring the Smell In

The smell is brought to your attention as a result of air coming down the chimney, a symptom of overall pressure and draft problems. Normally, as long as the draft is working correctly and there is no negative airflow in the home, the smells will remain inside the chimney. In the event that negative airflow becomes a problem, however, the air brings the inner fireplace smells and chimney odors right along with it as it exits vacates the chimney and fireplace and enters your living space. A quick solution to the negative air pressure is to simply keep a window cracked at all times to enable the pressure to change through the window rather than the chimney, ultimately keeping the odors locked away inside your chimney and away from your nose.

Sealing Out the Smell

For a more permanent approach to keeping the smell that’s exuding from your fireplace and chimney’s masonry away from your nose, you need to limit the amount of air that’s able to come down your chimney in the first place. Closing your throat-mount damper is a good start, however, the metal-on-metal closure here is far from airtight. A top-sealing damper can help to minimize the airflow and reduce the accompanying fireplace smells significantly, if not altogether. In addition to taking care of your airflow problems, a top-sealing damper will help keep rainwater and moisture out of your chimney, too.

There’s never a bad time to schedule a chimney inspection. Chimney sweeps are available year round to inspect and clean your chimney. Don’t allow these unpleasant smells to become a problem in your home. As soon as you notice them coming from your fireplace, contact the chimney professionals at Above and Beyond Chimney Service. We strive to both exceed your expectations on every level and make your chimney and vent maintenance services as painless and convenient as possible.

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