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Did you know? No open-coil space heaters are permitted in any university buildings.
Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February.
An annual inspection ensures that your heating and venting systems are operating safely and efficiently. A qualified heating contractor can provide that important annual check-up. Things to look for:
Since furnaces and hot water heaters are powered by electricity or fossil fuels such as oil, propane or natural gas, it is important to ensure the furnace has adequate space for proper ventilation. You will also want to be sure there is enough space to allow for any maintenance or repair work that might need to be done.
Don’t store any unnecessary items in your furnace room. Furnace rooms should be kept clear of clutter that can obstruct service and maintenance work as well as interfere with how well your equipment runs.
We know that not every home has a separate furnace room and that sometimes it’s necessary to use it for storage. If your furnace room doubles as storage or laundry space, be sure to keep it organized and clean by doing the following:
Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people. With proper chimney system care, chimney fires are entirely preventable. Here are some ways to avoid them:
Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing and maintaining your chimney or appliance. If you do not have instructions, call the manufacturer. For masonry chimneys, call the builder. Note: For all new installations, a Building Permit is required.
The Ontario Fire Code requires homeowners to maintain the safety of their chimneys and inspect them at least once a year. Your chimney could have a problem you cannot see. If in doubt, consult a Wood Energy Technical Training (WETT) certified chimney sweep.
Ensure screws are located at every joint. Also look for leaching (dark staining or white powder) at every joint. This could be a sign of chimney trouble - consult a WETT certified chimney sweep.
Creosote can form quickly and is a major cause of chimney fires. Check chimney and flue pipes often and clean when necessary. Never let creosote or soot build up. Check walls for excessive heat. If the wall is very hot, it could be a sign of improper installation of the chimney or stove pipe. Check with a WETT certified chimney sweep.
A rain cap should be installed on top of all metal and masonry chimneys. If you have a spark screen around the chimney cap, inspect it regularly for blockage. Watch for smoke coming into the room. This could indicate a blockage in the chimney or a faulty damper control mechanism.
Keep combustibles safely away from your appliance. Always use a properly fitting screen for your fireplace. Regularly check for signs of problems. Your heating appliance, flue pipes and chimney can deteriorate over time. Look for corrosion or rust stains on the outer shell of a metal chimney and check for bulges or corrosion in its liner.
If you realize a chimney fire is occurring, get everyone, including yourself, out of the house. Call the fire department. Remember: homes are replaceable, lives are not. If you can do so without risk to yourself, these additional steps may help save your home.
Chimney fires can occur without anyone being aware of them, and damage from such fires can endanger a home and its occupants. Here are the signs a professional chimney sweep looks for:
If you think a chimney fire has occurred, call a WETT-Certified Chimney Sweep for a professional evaluation. If your suspicions are confirmed, a certified sweep will be able to make recommendations about how to bring the system back into compliance with safety standards.
When chimney fires occur in masonry chimneys, whether the flues are an older, unlined type or are tile lined to meet current safety codes, the high temperatures they burn at (around 2000 F) can melt mortar, crack tiles, cause liners to collapse and damage the outer masonry material. Most often, tiles crack and mortar is displaced, which provides a pathway for flames to reach the combustible wood frame of the house. One chimney fire may not harm a home. A second can burn it down. Enough heat can also conduct through a perfectly sound chimney to ignite nearby combustibles.
Pre-fabricated, factory-built, metal chimneys:
To be installed in most jurisdictions in Canada, factory-built, metal chimneys that are designed to vent wood burning stoves or pre-fabricated metal fireplaces must pass special tests determined by Underwriter's Laboratories of Canada (ULC). Under chimney fire conditions, damage to these systems still may occur, usually in the form of buckled or warped seams and joints on the inner liner. When pre-fabricated, factory-built metal chimneys are damaged by a chimney fire, they should no longer be used and must be replaced.
Creosote is black or brown residue that sticks to the inner walls of chimneys. It can be crusty and flaky, tar-like, drippy and sticky or shiny and hardened. Often, all forms will occur in one chimney system.
Whatever form it takes, creosote is highly combustible. If it builds up in sufficient quantities and catches fire inside the chimney flue, the result will be a chimney fire. Although any amount of creosote can burn, there is cause for concern when creosote builds up in sufficient quantities to sustain a long, hot, destructive chimney fire.
The air supply on fireplaces may be restricted by closed glass doors or by failure to open the damper wide enough to move heated smoke up the chimney rapidly (the longer the smoke's 'residence time' in the flue, the more likely it is that creosote will form). A wood stove's air supply can be limited by closing down the stove damper or air inlets too soon and too much, and by improperly using the stovepipe damper to restrict air movement.
Burning unseasoned firewood:
Because so much energy is used to drive off the water trapped in the cells of the logs, burning green wood keeps the resulting smoke cooler as it moves through the system, than if dried, seasoned wood is used.
Cool flue temperatures:
In the case of wood stoves, fully-packed loads of wood that give large, cool fires and eight to 10 hour burn times, contribute to creosote build-up. Condensation of the unburned by-products of combustion also occurs more rapidly in an exterior chimney than in a chimney that runs through the centre of a house and exposes only the upper reaches of the flue to the elements.
Portable space heaters are a potential source of fire if not used properly. The requirements listed below, applicable code requirements, and manufacturer’s recommendations must be followed to maintain a safe environment. No open-coil space heaters are permitted in any university buildings; space heaters of any type are prohibited in laboratories.
If you will be using a portable space heater, ensure you follow these safety tips:
The greatest fire risk seniors face is their clothing catching on fire. It could be from an ash or ember of a cigarette, occur while cooking or getting too close to a space heater.
If your clothing does catch on fire, remember to Stop (immediately stop what you are doing), Drop (lower yourself to the ground) and Roll (over and over until the fire is out).
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