TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Everyone is looking for ways to save money, and in these cold months, a fireplace is a common way to do so. But Assistant Fire Chief Norm Loudermilk says, make sure you look before lighting.
"Every season, your chimney should be swept by a professional sweep. Your chimney should be inspected to make sure that there are no cracks, there are no openings."
The reason for this? A substance called "creosote".
"Creasote is when you have smoke that is mixed with condensation. So what you get is a flaky, layering of an amber or dark-colored material."
Creasote can happen with anything, but it's especially prominent with fire starter logs.
"If you're going to use a starter log, understand that starter logs are made with sawdust and paraffin, which is wax, and that wax will help build creasote."
Loudermilk says there is good news.
Keeping your chimney clean is relatively easy, and there are a few things you can do besides hiring a chimney sweep.
"Make sure that you use seasoned wood, hardwood, that you remove the ashes frequently, and don't ever start a fire and then go to bed or leave your house. You're just asking for trouble in that situation."
And by doing so, you can have a safe and warm winter.