Check Chimneys Before Lighting Fires

A nice fire may sound good on these cool winter days, but before you strike a match, check with a chimney expert.

"If your chimney was damaged during the hurricane, you need to have it professionally checked to make sure all the clearances to combustibles with a pipe is put back the way it was, if not better. Some of it was installed maybe improperly and you just never knew it, but now that the storm's come through, it can actually shift the metal pipe and put it in the position where it can be a fire hazard in your home," said David Smith of Smitty's Chimney Service.

David Smith of Smitty's Chimney Service has seen more fire hazards since Katrina due to improper chimney installations as South Mississippians begin to rebuild their homes.

"I saw where a roofer had reinstalled the chimney pipe, and it clearly says on the pipe, two inches to combustibles and the roof decking and the shingles were butted up against it with tar installed around that. Definitely a no-no," said Smith.

To further understand what Smith is talking about, he gave us a little demonstration of how chimneys work and why it could equal disaster.

"All this pipe is double walled. You've got your, where your smoke and your combustibles go through and then what that does, that leaves an air space in between here for it to cool itself. So while this is burning nice and hot, you should be able to put your hands on it and it will just be warm, but you don't still want this touching wood. In a worse case scenario, if you had a flute fire, it would get this hot and this hot and if it touching wood, you have a chance of a fire," said Smith.

So, as many of you begin to rebuild your homes, make sure your fireplace will not equal yet another disaster.

Smith says if your chimney is leaning post-Hurricane Katrina, it is a problem that needs to be corrected.

And he encourages us to put our trust in someone who works with chimneys everyday.