How To Keep a Cozy Fireplace Safe

October 19, 2021

Fireplace safety Utica NYIt’s cold out and many of us are looking forward to our comfy fireplaces. But did you know that you may have a chimney fire and not even notice?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), “Slow-burning chimney fires don’t get enough air or have fuel to be dramatic or visible and they often go undetected until a later chimney inspection….”The fire can get hot and cause damage to the chimney. The scary thing is realizing that the fire that’s so comforting can also be dangerous in Utica area homes.

Cooler weather obviously means we need to heat our homes. And what is nicer than a cozy, crackling fire while reading the Sunday paper and watching the game on TV. Many Mohawk Valley diehards say they stay because they love the change of seasons. And a beautiful fireplace is something many of us look forward to.

But an average of 17,600 chimney fires occurred annually in the United States between 2015 and 2017. So what can you do to make sure your cozy fire doesn’t turn into a disaster at your home?

Fireplace Safety Tips

  1. Get your chimney inspected once a year by a certified chimney sweep. It’s recommended you get a certified CSIA sweep for the job.
  2. Burn seasoned firewood only. That means split for six months to a year and stored covered and elevated. Don’t put anything else in the fire. No treated wood, no branches from outside, no Christmas tree branches.
  3. Keep furniture or any combustible material away from the hearth. It gets very hot close to the fire and things can easily catch.
  4. In the same way, use a fireplace screen. This catches flying sparks as the logs pop every so often.
  5. Make sure your smoke detectors are working.
  6. Don’t leave home with the fire unattended. Rule of thumb: Once the fire is going, you are staying!

How to Make Sure the Wood is Good

Believe it or not, freshly cut firewood contains up to 45% water. Seasoned wood is down to 20-25% water. The problem with water in green wood is that it takes more energy to burn the wood. That means less heat is delivered to your home. And acidic water ends up deposited in your chimney.

So how do you know your wood is properly seasoned? That is, cut 6 months to a year before burning and dried in the sun and air.

Seasoned firewood has darker ends with cracks and splits visible. It’s relatively light. And when you knock two pieces together it makes a clear clunking noise.

Green wood, on the other hand, is heavier with fresher looking ends. And when knocked together makes a dull thud. Of course, the best way to know is to buy split wood in the spring for use the next winter. And buy from a supplier you know and trust.

Homeowners Insurance Will Respond in Case of Fire

Here at Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig we realize that no matter how careful you are, accidents happen. What if your chimney catches fire? Or a spark causes a fire in your home? Will your homeowners insurance policy respond? The answer is, yes it will.

The question is, will you have enough coverage? Are you wondering about a second opinion on your homeowners insurance policy? Maybe looking to save money? Give us a call and we’ll go over your current policy and premiums with you. Our aim is to get you the right coverages for the best price.

And enjoy a safe winter season in front of that warm fire!

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here. In Westchester County call Zak Scalzo at 914.246.0315 or email at