Caution advised in heating home
October 10, 2007
INCLINE VILLAGE ” Frosty outdoor weather reminds some of hot chocolate, driving through the snow and days on the ski hill.
Frosty indoor weather reminds everyone to turn on the heat in their homes.
Pete Mulvihill, the assistant fire marshal at the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, wants people to remember one thing: Be safe when heating your home.
“We usually see a few fires from electric baseboard heating and old wood-burning stoves,” Mulvihill said.
Electric baseboard heating is the major culprit, Mulvihill said. Homeowners with an electric baseboard system need to pull their furniture out from walls and make sure curtains don’t hang over the radiators or they could catch fire. Also, furniture can cause the warm air from baseboard radiators not to circulate and overheat a certain area, which can ignite a fire.
“Also, at the beginning of the heating season, dust and lint tend to accumulate in electric baseboard heaters and they should get vacuumed out at least once a year,” Mulvihill said.
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Mulvihill also stressed caution for those with wood-burning stoves.
“Many of the fires we see from wood burning units happen because people build fires that are too large for the area, and that in turn can ignite the wood around the unit and start a fire,” Mulvihill said.
He encouraged people with old or outdated heating systems to consider newer, safer alternatives. Pellet stoves and gas fireplaces are more efficient and safer because they draw cold air from outside of the home and pump in warm air.
Older wood-burning stoves and fireplaces draw air from inside the home, which in turn draws cold air from outside in through cracks in the home’s insulation, making the home colder, Mulvihill said.
Another maintenance concern is fireplace chimneys.
Larry Pizorno, a chimney sweep and a Washoe County air pollution and stills inspector, said that people should have their chimneys swept once a year.
“We recommend that people get their chimneys swept in August or September. That way people have their chimneys swept before they really start using them or they become a problem,” Pizorno said.
Mulvihill agreed with Pizorno and added that the reason people need their chimneys swept is because dangerous ash can build up around the inside of a chimney’s brickwork, overheat, and cause any wood outside of the fireplace to ignite. A chimney sweep can professionally clean a chimney of this debris to make sure a fireplace burns safer and more effectively.