Fireplace Safety & Christmas Trees

Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.  |  5/9/2018 4:20:34 PM

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News article for November 27, 2017

Thanksgiving was full of food, fun, family and we even had a few frosts. Cold weather just makes food taste better and I am thankful for all of those.

Along with those frosts, I was able to light the fireplace and that smell added to the Thanksgiving experience.

Fireplace safety is a concern. Santa does not need all that much soot and ashes for the few naughty people on his list. We need to make sure that we do not have buildup of creosote on the inside of the chimney walls, as creosote is highly flammable. Even though you have a fire down in the firebox of your fireplace, you do not want a chimney fire as it can damage your chimney and catch the house on fire.

Creosote is the black tar like substance that is created when you burn green wood or soft wood species like pine. Green wood will burn at a lower temperature because it has a higher percentage of moisture and a lot of the heat is used to burn off the moisture in the wood. Creosote can also be a problem in wood burning stoves and inserts because we cut the air down on the draft to slow the fire down so it will burn and give heat all night.

Burning dry wood produces much less creosote. If you are cutting your own wood you will know if it is dry or seasoned. If you are purchasing wood, check by looking at the ends of the wood. Seasoned wood will have cracks in the ends which are left by the drying process.

Now might be a good time to contact a chimney sweep to check out your fireplace and chimney. He will have long scrub brushes and the correct equipment to clean the chimney without making a huge mess. This is not the safest DIY job, but you can take a mirror and look up the chimney to see if the inside walls look clean or have creosote stuck to them.

If you have creosote inside your chimney, some of the job will be performed from the roof and that is where it gets tricky. Electrical lines and the forces of gravity should keep you on the ground and leave this one to the professionals.

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As soon as the Thanksgiving meal is complete the rush is on for Christmas. The centerpiece of the Christmas decoration is a fresh tree. Artificial trees have made great strides but as good as they look, the smell cannot be duplicated. The key is to get a fresh tree.

You are not going to get any fresher than a tree cut on a Christmas tree farm. If you see your tree growing and participate in harvesting it, then you know it is fresh.

For trees that are already cut before you purchase them, you need to perform a few freshness tests to make sure they will last the whole holiday season. First, check the needles by giving them a slight tug. Needles should not readily pull out and they should be soft and pliable. Lift the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on the butt to see if there is a drop of green needles, there should only be a few. The tree should have a strong smell and a good green color.

When you get your tree home, cut an inch or two off the butt of the tree so it can uptake water and then put it in a large pan of water. Check the water level daily and do not let it run dry.

Keep trees away from fireplaces, candles, heaters, drafts and vents.

Trees look smaller on the lot and taller in the house, know the height you can accommodate and do not forget to include the height of the stand and topper. Also, check to see that the tree trunk is straight, a leaning tree has a tendency to topple over once it is decorated.

Check electrical cords for frays and test your smoke alarm batteries now.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.

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