With the heating season quickly approaching, the Muskoka Fire Prevention Officers would like to remind residents in Muskoka to have their annual maintenance performed on their fuel-burning appliances and chimneys. Chimney fires are an all too common cause of fires that fire departments respond to. These fires are damaging to your home and can become deadly very quickly. Improper care and maintenance can lead to creosote build-up, which is highly combustible and can lead to a chimney fire. The good news is these types of fire are preventable.
Here are some tips on using your wood-burning appliance safely:
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 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.
• Inspect and clean your chimney regularly. The Ontario Fire Code requires homeowners
to maintain 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
• Check stovepipes and connections. 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 if leaching is found.
• 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 if
you notice a hot wall.
• Install a rain cap. 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
• Watch for smoke coming into the room. This could indicate a blockage in the chimney
or a faulty damper control mechanism. Check it out!
• Protect floors and walls from heat and sparks. 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
Chimney fires are preventable. Here are some tips to help prevent them:
• Only use seasoned wood. Dryness is more important than hard wood versus soft wood considerations.
• Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke.
• Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or Christmas trees. These items can spark a chimney fire.
• Install a stovepipe thermometer to help monitor flue temperatures where wood stoves are in use, so you can adjust burning practices as needed.
Ensure you have working smoke alarms on each level of your home and near each sleeping area. Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms are required near each sleeping area.