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Clean chimney, stove for safety



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A fireplace or wood stove can be cozy on a cold night, but regular chimney cleanings should be part of your routine use to reduce the risk of fire. (click for larger version)
December 09, 2010
The first two weeks of December have ushered in frigid temperatures that are more typical of mid-January, and residents are hurrying to clean their fireplaces.

Although most people are eager to sit by a warm fire as soon as possible, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has issued its yearly reminder about the need to thoroughly clean fireplaces and inspect chimneys before lighting that first blaze.

The NFPA suggests cleaning wood stoves once a year, oil stoves every two years, and gas stoves every six years. Depending on the yearly usage, wood stoves often need to be cleaned twice a year, as the gradual accumulation of soot can restrict the flue to the point where there is no longer enough space to vent the fireplace properly. Also, leaves and branches can fall into a chimney causing safety concerns by restricting the movement of smoke.

There are several local options for chimney sweeps and repairs, including A-Tec Chimney Sweep in Worcester, Dhembe's Chimney Sweep and Masonry in Southbridge, Absolute Chimney Services in Ware, and Thibert's Chimney Sweep in Brimfield.

"You should have your fireplace and chimney inspected by a professional sweeper each year to make sure that is safe to run," said Jonathan Kopec, the owner of A-Tec Chimney Sweep. "It can be very expensive to repair a chimney if you go a few years without maintaining it."

The above companies are licensed to inspect fireplaces and provide necessary cleaning services to chimneys. Costs generally range from $150 to $250, although chimneys that have not been maintained may be more costly to service.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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