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Old Smokey's Fireplace & Chimney's Blog

Reduce Fire Hazards This Winter

Winter brings along Jack or Jacqueline Frost, occasional snow days, and potential fire hazards. For one thing, fire hazards arise in the winter simply because your fireplace and chimney get used a lot. Old Smokey’s Fireplace & Chimney knows a thing or two about fireplaces and chimneys, as our name declares, and we confidently like to share our experience and knowledge on these matters.

From years of making customers feel satisfied, Old Smokey’s knows that best practices and preventive measures can help reduce the chance of fire hazards in your home during the winter season of frequent burning. Fire-safety professionals offer some common-sense suggestions.

Among them:

  • Use a screen in front of the fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
  • Never remove fireplace embers or ash when they are hot. Remove ash or embers by placing them in a metal container with a lid. Never place them in a plastic or paper bag or other container that is not fire-resistant. Do not dispose of embers or ash indoors or close to your home or another structure.
  • Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Use only seasoned firewood.
  • Never leave a fire unattended or let it smolder.

There are a few other considerations:

  • Although it may be a common practice, don’t burn wrapping paper. Ink from wrapping paper may give off toxic fumes. Furthermore, paper burns quickly and can produce a high flame. This high flame might reach into the chimney and cause built-up creosote to catch fire. Another hazard of burning paper is that embers can rise up from the chimney and escape, posing a fire hazard to your roof or nearby structures.
  • A key to preventing fire-safety hazards during the winter burning season is your annual fireplace and chimney inspection. If you are concerned about possible creosote build-up or the formation of combustible residues, get your chimney and venting systems inspected. Old Smokey’s follows standards and recommendations of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). We perform professional chimney inspections, chimney sweeping and chimney repairs, if needed.
  • Even though we are well past the Christmas season, some people keep their tree up for quite a while. When you are done with that tree, do not toss it into your fireplace. That’s not a safe practice.

We are proud of our Old Smokey’s trained professionals!

For more than 20 years, Old Smokey’s has delivered excellence to homeowners in northern Indiana, northern Ohio and mid-Michigan. Folks from Elkhart in the west to Ypsilanti in the east, from Lansing in the north to Defiance and Fort Wayne in the south are served by Old Smokey’s.

Call us at 260-424-0009 or schedule an appointment online.
Old Smokey’s is here for you during the winter and the three other seasons – for fire safety, and any other concerns you may have about your fireplace and chimney.

Don’t Just Throw Out Your Fireplace Ashes

Fireplace Ash Removal - Fort Wayne IN - Old Smokey's Fireplace & ChimneyWhenever you burn a solid fuel (wood, coal or pellets) in your stove, fireplace or insert, you will be left with ashes that need to be removed. These ashes must be removed periodically, as they can affect the performance and durability of your unit. The frequency of the ash removal will depend on the product itself and the type of fuel being burned.


Improper ash removal from fireplaces and wood burning stoves causes thousands of fires in the U.S. every year. According to the NFPA, almost 10,000 fires are caused yearly due to improperly removing and discarding ashes. Hot coals, hidden in a pile of ashes and thus well insulated, can stay hot for up to four days because the ash acts as an insulator that keeps the coals from burning out. All these coals need to flare up again is more oxygen. It’s for this reason that fire departments often return to a scene to spray more water on smoldering timbers and newly flared coals.


Never empty ashes into a paper or plastic bag, cardboard box, or other similar container. The only suitable means for ash storage is a metal container with a tight-fitting lid, as this helps keep air from blowing through and disturbing the ashes, which can leave hot coals exposed and easily reignited. For optimum safety, wet the wood ashes prior to attaching the metal lid to the pail. As a safety precaution, never store your metal ash container on your deck, in your garage, or in any location that may allow heat to transfer from those hot coals to nearby flammable items. Countless wooden decks catch fire each year because of this simple oversight. Instead, place the container on a non-combustible surface such as stone, concrete, brick, or slate.


Wood ash, once completely cooled, can safely be used in numerous ways:
Fireplace Ash Uses - Fort Wayne IN - Old Smokey's Fireplace & Chimney

  • It makes a great soil additive that your plants will enjoy because they are high in potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Tomatoes, which are calcium-loving plants, are especially fond of the addition. Simply place ¼ cup directly in the hole when planting.
  • It helps to enrich compost. Remember, though, that moderation is key. Sprinkling in a few ashes will be enough to enhance its nutrients, while adding too much, however, can ruin the mix altogether.
  • With winter quite possibly coming to an end at some point in the near future, you may want to file this away for next year: ashes can be used to melt ice and add much-needed traction without hurting the soil or concrete underneath.
  • Once all of the ice and snow has melted away, your fireplace ashes can be used to spot treat and hide stains on your paved areas.
  • When used around your landscaping, wood ash can help repel pests, including moles, snails and slugs. You should spread it evenly around garden beds and landscape perimeters to keep the unwanted pests off of your property and relegated to someone else’s.

Protecting your family and preserving your home and lifestyle is important. We want to be sure we’re providing our families, neighbors and friends with the best possible services! If you’d like any additional information on this and many other topics, contact Old Smokey’s Fireplace & Chimney today. We look forward to helping you keep your family and your home protected and warm for the long haul.

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