STEPS TO RESTORING A COMMERCIAL BUILDING AFTER WATER DAMAGE
Water damage can be a catastrophic event but when the building is a commercial enterprise it can be debilitating if not handled properly.
Step 1: Determine the Risks
Electrical Hazards can include power strips in offices getting wet, water from above impacting junction boxes, lights, fire alarm systems etc. All power to impacted areas where electrical systems could be impacted should be immediately shut off at the circuit breaker panel if safe to do so. A qualified electrician should be hired to assess any damages and to ensure all areas are safe from shock hazards.
Slip and Fall Hazards
Slip and fall hazards are some of the most common hazards in any water damage event. Every effort should be made to reduce risks to include water removal, proper warning signs and restricting access to damaged areas.
HVAC System Contaminations
HVAC systems should be assessed to determine if any moisture has impacted the system. Contaminated water poses an imminent risk to occupants in the building due to the risk of bacteria, and other microorganisms becoming airborne. Even clean water when stagnant in the HVAC system for an extended period (typically over 48 hours) rapidly degrades and can result in deteriorated air quality and potential exposure risks. After water damage events impacting a mechanical system, a qualified HVAC expert should assess the system and the associated ductwork should be cleaned by a NADCA certified firm.
Category 1 or “clean” water damage situations are much less of a risk in terms of immediate health risks to occupant health and safety. Category 2 (contaminated water with potential risk of harm such as groundwater) and category 3 (significant contamination such as sewage) water damage disasters pose a much greater risk to occupant health due to potential viruses, bacteria, chemicals, and disease-causing pathogens typically present in this type of water. Immediate evacuation of occupants is often prudent in category 2 water damage events and is almost always required in category 3 water damage events.
Step 2: Mitigate Commercial Water Damage
Proper mitigation during water damage is a critical step in restoring a building–but what exactly does mitigation mean with respect to restoring a building? Mitigation involves removing all excess water, quickly identifying salvageable vs non-salvageable building materials/contents, quickly identifying class 4 areas of damage which are difficult/technical drying challenges with bound moisture and establishing a restoration plan for demolition and drying. The ultimate goal of mitigation in commercial settings is to dry the structure with as little demolition as possible and to limit downtime of the operation.
The Key to Success is Having a Water Damage Clean up Process in Place
Good communication throughout the entire process is key to a successful outcome. This includes communication with facilities management, subcontractors, water mitigation techs, etc. Every step should be thoroughly documented, including photos, notes, and moisture mapping. A pre-set disaster emergency response plan is the best way to ensure a rapid response and timely building restoration. Most progressive companies have some type of plan in place which should include all of the building’s mechanical information, electrical layouts/shut-offs, water shutoffs, location of critical documents, staging areas and contact information for key employees/contractors.
No one ever wishes for a water damage event to strike their building, but chances are that at some point you’ll be the victim of a water damage disaster. When disaster does strike have a plan already in place and more importantly ensure you call in a qualified expert, such as SERVPRO of Streamwood, Bartlett, West Chicago, and Warrenville to perform the required mitigation. With a well thought out and well-executed mitigation/drying plan you’ll be up and running in no time.
Types of Fire Doors for Your Commercial Business
Choosing the correct fire doors for your business could be crucial.
In the case of a fire, fire doors are necessary. They can buy valuable time, allowing residents to safely flee a structure. In the event of an emergency, they are critical not only for providing a clear and secure escape route but also for reducing the spread of flames and smoke. Because fire doors have the potential to save lives and reduce long-term damage, they must adhere to the building's strict health and safety rules.
The effectiveness of a fire door, as well as the type required, are determined by its location in the building and the types of fire dangers it faces. There are many various types of fire doors, ranging from different materials to different fire ratings and levels of protection.
Fire doors made of glass
It's hard to think that glass is a fire-resistant material, yet thanks to sophisticated fire technology, it's just as excellent as any other. It's crucial to understand that glass fire doors must be built of fire-resistant glass. This indicates that the glass has undergone the necessary fire testing and has been certified as fire-resistant.
The E certification denotes that the fire door glazing will remain transparent when exposed to fire or heat, allowing for maximum visibility and light transmission. It also implies that the glass will only impede the spread of fire and smoke, but not heat transmission. The number following the E classification grade indicates how long it will take for fire-rated glass to properly segregate regions and prevent fire and smoke from spreading.
Toughened fire glass can resist temperatures of over 1600°F, whilst normal glazing can only withstand temperatures of 250°F. Glass fire screens, and doors can also provide up to 120 minutes of fire protection. Following are the classes and classification of glass fire rated doors and screens :
- Class E: This is the most basic form of fire-resistant glass available. It can contain flames and smoke for a long period, but it can't stop heat from radiating from the source from being transmitted or transferred.
- Class EW: This is the second type of fire-resistant glass that can effectively contain flames and smoke for an extended period. It does, however, provide some insulation or resistance to the heat radiating from the source.
- Class EI: This is likely the benchmark in terms of fire-resistant glass, as it provides a broad range of protection. It protects individuals not only from fire and smoke but also from the heat radiated by the fire source.
- Fire doors E30: A glass door or screen with an E30 rating can defend against the spread of smoke and flames for 30 minutes in the case of a fire, providing a half-hour opportunity for anyone in the building to locate a safe escape path.
- Fire doors E60: E60 is a higher grade for glass fire screens and doors, indicating that it can endure heat and smoke for 60 minutes without losing its integrity and stability.
- Fire doors E120: The highest-rated fire-resistant glass is given an E120 rating, indicating that it can withstand the pressure of fire and smoke for up to 120 minutes before losing its effectiveness.
Fire doors made of wood
The British Woodworking Federation assigns an FD rating to timber fire doors to indicate their level of protection. Another prominent organization that supplies fire door ratings is the British Woodworking Federation (BWF). The BWF fire ratings for fire door assemblies are expressed in minutes and preceded by the initials FD: for example, FD30 stands for a 30-minute fire door or fire door set, which means it provides at least 30 minutes of fire protection.
The following are the most regularly used integrity levels:
- FD30 is for 30 minutes,
- FD60 is for 60 minutes,
- FD90 is for 90 minutes, and
- FD120 is for 120 minutes.
The current FD20 rating is no longer available as part of the BWF's efforts to simplify fire door identification and avoid specification misunderstanding.
Certified Fire Doors
Fire door sets can be certified by manufacturers for recognition and to ensure their functionality in a fire situation. The manufacturer's initial step is to build a fire door set to a specification that, in their opinion, will withstand a fire for a defined period.
BWF has its Certified Fire Door Scheme, in which they collaborate with FIRAS installers to ensure that the doors are installed according to their specifications. All fire doors that have completed the British Woodworking Federation's tests will be granted a BWF-CERTIFICATE, which will state the door's rating and ensure that it has been properly tested and is safe to use.
How to create a fire protection and prevention plan for businesses
Commercial businesses need to create a fire protection and prevention plan.
As one of the greatest hazards that a business can experience, fire rates near the top. Each year, several thousand lives are lost to fires, tens of thousands of people are seriously injured, and billions of dollars in property is destroyed or damaged by fires. Commercial businesses guard against this risk by sharing these best practices for a fire protection and prevention plan as part of their risk management plan.
Most fires can be prevented by using proper building materials, plus identification and protection of special hazards. The use of detection and suppression equipment, along with education and involvement of the organization’s senior management are also key prevention considerations on which we’ll take a closer look.
Before a fire: Prepare and launch your fire protection and prevention plan
Establish an Emergency plan that takes prevention, emergency response, and disaster recovery into consideration. If a plan is already in place, review and update it as needed for fire readiness.
Before you create your pre-fire plan, you’ll need a solid understanding of your building’s construction, floorplan and occupancy. This helps firefighters and other emergency response personnel to more effectively resolve a crisis.
Observe not only the building’s layout and construction materials, but also parking lot entrances, hydrant locations and nearby structures. Include a floorplan of each level that shows elevators, fire escape stairwells, heating and air conditioning equipment, smoke detectors, fire alarms, sprinkler systems and controls, and utility shutoffs.
Your commercial business should also conduct a hazard assessment and safety appraisal of the facility and its operations.
In launching a fire protection and prevention plan, be sure to include the following:
- Smoking regulations that are supported and enforced by management.
- Safe procedures for handling and storing flammable gases and liquids.
- Safe means of performing hot work (e.g., welding).
- A thorough description of good housekeeping methods such as not allowing rubbish to accumulate or aisles to be blocked.
In developing the plan, your business may discover they need to install or upgrade various fire prevention features. They may need to upgrade their facility to meet current fire codes. If so, remind them to use noncombustible and fire-resistant building materials. Additionally, encourage them to follow these safety tips:
- Ensure the preventive maintenance program for operational equipment (building utilities, processing equipment and material handling equipment) meets manufacturer’s specifications and industry standards.
- Install fire detection systems (e.g., fire alarm systems) and fire suppression systems (e.g., fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, and carbon dioxide) in the building, particularly in hazardous locations.
- Keep an adequate number of appropriate fire extinguishers in strategic locations (such as near loading docks and waste collection areas). Maintain them properly and train staff on their use.
- Test all fire and life safety detection and suppression equipment per local and national fire codes.
- Consider maintaining a water supply at the facility to control small fires until emergency personnel can arrive.
- Ensure there’s an adequate water supply for the sprinkler system. Evaluate the water supply’s volume, pressure, and duration (e.g., pressure, suction, or gravity/elevated tanks).
- When reservoirs, ponds, rivers, and other similar bodies of water are used to supply the sprinkler system, evaluate how any unusual weather conditions such as winter freezes or extremely hot weather may affect supply.
- Have available appropriate tools such as rakes, axes, saws, buckets and shovels to help control small fires while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.
- Meet with the local fire department to familiarize them with special hazards and emergency procedures.
- Develop mutual aid agreements with other companies.
- Keep a list of all vendors’ and key customers’ telephone numbers and other important contact information available and secured.
- Provide a warning system for all personnel on the premises.
- Train employees in general fire safety, especially for tasks with a high fire risk such as welding and cutting, fueling vehicles or working with flammable liquids.
- Teach employees about the importance of good housekeeping and grounds maintenance in preventing and controlling fires.
- Train key employees in when and how to use fire extinguishers.
- Consider when and how to evacuate employees if needed.
- Establish an evacuation plan and keep it up to date.
- Hold evacuation drills regularly so all employees are familiar with evacuation routes and routines and know who’s in charge.
- Make sure all employees can get out of the building and communicate with a responsible person.
- Plan primary and secondary exits from your buildings. Consider how employees will escape if doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire.
Once your business' emergency fire plan is in place, they’ll need to provide it to local fire officials and update it on a regular basis.
During a fire: Enact your fire protection plan
- Identify the affected area and sound the alarm.
- Call the public fire department.
- Evacuate all visitors and employees.
- Position security staff at the front entrance of the building (or wherever appropriate) to meet, brief, and escort the fire department.
- When directed by the fire department, notify the electric company to cut off electric power to the facility.
After a fire: Begin recovery
- Conduct a roll call of all personnel, including visitors.
- Assess the structure for damage.
- If there is no power, check to make sure the main breaker is on. Fires may cause breakers to trip. If the breakers are on and power is still not available, contact the utility company.
- Inspect all other utilities and turn off those that are damaged.
- ALWAYS contact 911 if any danger is perceived upon re-entry and contact local experts before finally moving back in.
- Protect equipment and inventory against further damage from water or exposure to the elements.
- Restore fire detection and suppression systems.
- Arrange for security at the scene.
- Call your insurance company to begin a claim.
- Photograph and document the damage.
- Begin salvage operations.
How To Know It’s Time To Call A Storm Damage Restoration Company
Storms can happen in a flash. Let SERVPRO of Streamwood, Bartlett, West Chicago, and Warrenville help when storm damage is severe.
The weather conditions in Illinois can easily result in storms. As a result, your home or property may receive damage. One example of damage after stormy weather is roof damage. This may result in roof leaks and further damage.
Here are some signs that you should call SERVPRO of Streamwood, Bartlett, West Chicago, and Warrenville.
1. Wind damage
Winds that accompany a storm can be devastating. This type of damage is what you should first look for after a storm. Here are some signs of wind damage to let you know that it is time to call.
- Missing shingles: Missing shingles is one obvious sign of wind damage. Already peeling or cracked shingles are even more susceptible. New and well-maintained roofs are less at-risk. Some roofing manufacturers also have warranties that cover severe wind damage.
- Visible loss of granules: Commonly, brand new roofs suffer some granule loss. The loss of granules is found in characteristic horizontal lines with storm damage. This is a sign of a broken shingle seal. As shingles flap in the wind, granules rub off.
- Visible water infiltration: Leaks that penetrate through the ceilings are obvious signs of wind damage. This is true if you see a water stain on your ceiling. If this happens, it means that both the roof underlayment and shingles are compromised.
- Loose debris: Loose debris after a storm can also be an indication of wind damage. If your roof is struck by elements because of the high winds, you will likely find debris in and around your home. Ensure that you clear all debris to reduce the safety risk.
2. Snow and hail damage
Hail forms at the same range of temperature at which snow is possible. Hail consists of compact-sized balls of ice. They are capable of denting or punching through solid objects when they fall at full force. Here are some signs of hail and snow to let you know that the service of a storm damage restoration company is needed:
- Damaged or missing shingles: Hail can cause the immediate loss of shingles even if they were intact before a storm. Look for dents and cracks to find the location of the impact. The shingles may need replacement because of the damage, even if they are still present.
- Broken or clogged gutters: Clogged gutters should be cleaned immediately after a storm. This is to allow water to drain properly away from the foot of the building. If it does not, the foundation of your house can get eroded, making the structure unsafe. Ensure that all downspouts and gutters are not broken or clogged. If they are, call a restoration company.
- Ice dams: Shingles become vulnerable to ice dams when not properly maintained. Ice dams form due to the freezing of melted snow on the eaves of your roof. Ice dams can prevent the proper flow of water off your roof, encouraging leaks. An ice dam is an issue you can easily notice.
3. Water damage
Water damage is unlike wind and hail damage. Sometimes, it takes a while before water damage gets noticed. However, it can still lead to serious damage to your health and home if not addressed. You should call a storm damage restoration company if you notice any of these signs:
- Damage to roof accents or supports: Damage to the supporting structures of your home may not be obvious. Your shingles may also appear to be intact. However, ensure that you look for areas where there is heavy pooling of water after or during heavy rain. You should also check the chimney, flashing around vent pipes and other areas susceptible to pooling of water.
- Visible attic issue: The attic of your house is part of your home’s ecosystem. A sign of leaks you can see in your attic is moisture penetration. You may need to replace the insulation and inundated surfaces to prevent the growth of mildew and mold.
- Odd smell: You may not notice water even if there is a minor leak somewhere in the wall of your home. However, you may notice some type of smell. You will notice more serious signs of water damage if you can locate the source of the smell.
- Discoloration on the walls: Whenever there is water damage, and it is not visible, there is a high chance that the problem is going into the walls of your home. You may not easily notice dripping water as a result of small leaks. However, you will start noticing discoloration on your walls as time goes on. It is a sign of excess moisture in your home.
- Warped flooring: Warped flooring is another sign that there is unseen water in your home. The result of water getting between the floorboards is buckling and uneven flooring. To be sure of this, ensure that you check your baseboards. There could also be mold beneath them.
Steps to Take Immediately After a Storm Damage
Some post-storm damage can create safety and health hazards as well, so having a strategy to deal with damage will help you to be ready to take steps
Storm damage can occur at any time and can cause an immense amount of harm to your home. Heavy rains can cause flooding and powerful winds can cause roof damage and downed trees on your property. Some post-storm damage can create safety and health hazards as well, so having a strategy to deal with damage will help you to be ready to take steps immediately after the storm.
Take Safety Precautions
Heavy winds and rain can create physical hazards such as collapsed roofing materials, window damage, collapsed walls or standing water in the basement or home interior. In addition, moisture can soak into furniture, carpeting, and building materials making the perfect environment for mold growth that can cause health issues. Shut off the main gas line if you smell gas. Beware of broken glass, exposed nails, and other sharp objects on the property. Contact SERVPRO of Streamwood, Bartlett, West Chicago & Warrenville to help do basic tasks to secure your property and make it safe to use. If necessary, arrange for an alternative place for you and your family to live while your property is being restored to safe living condition.
Photograph the Damage
If it is safe to move around your property, use your cellphone or a camera to photograph the damage so that you will have a record for your insurance company. This action will ensure that you are fully compensated.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance agent to notify them about the damage to your home immediately. The company will send out an adjustor to determine the extent of the damage so that payment for repairs can be made.
4 Main Causes Of Roof Storm Damage
After a storm there are 4 main reasons your home could be damaged.
Here are four main suspects of storm damage to your roof: wind, water, hail, and debris.
During thunderstorms, wind gusts can be gale-force (40-60mph) or even hurricane force (75+ mph) which can cause severe damage to your roof’s shingles. A wind that speed can easily tear off shingles or just lift and curl them, both revealing the protective underlayment beneath your shingles. When that underlayment is exposed, your roof is immediately at risk of leaks as water can leak underneath the nearby shingles and seep into your home.
There are a couple of ways extensive rainfall can cause pooling and water damage after the storm settles down. First, if your roof does not have proper drainage or has previously weakened spots, that heavy rainfall will simply sit on your roof and cause sunken spots or leak through any damaged shingles very easily. Also, if you have clogged gutters, that rainwater cannot run off the roof properly and will pool at your gutters which can lead to it seeping into those weak spots at the edge of your roof.
Hail large enough to damage your roof is not super common, but it can happen. And even small hail paired with strong gale winds can be enough to throw that hail into your shingles hard enough to dent them and slough off those vital granules that are the first protective layer of your shingles. Hail can also crack and peel up the edges of your shingles.
Damage From Debris
During severe thunderstorms, all kinds of debris like sticks and branches can snap off and blow onto your roof. If you’re especially unlucky, you could have an overhanging tree branch or tree fall on your roof, causing catastrophic damage. But even the small branches, twigs, and other trash debris that flies around and lands on your roof can cause damage. Imagine a gale-force wind carrying with it large branches headed straight for your roof.
Minimize Water Damage From a Sink
If your sink is flooding it can damage your home
When it comes to water damage from a sink flood there are some ways in which you could minimize the damage. This article offers you tips on how to minimize the water damage from a sink flood. The one main thing that is important for you to do in order to minimize damage from a sink flood is to get the water to your house shut off immediately.
- If your sink is flooding it can damage your home
- Make sure to shut off the water immediately
- Use any fabric you can find to create a barrier to isolate the water
A sink overflowing with water is a common cause of water damage and have the potential to cause much more than just a wet mess in your home. If the water gets out of control, it may result in flooding and serious interior water damage to your property. It can also create serious health hazards as it can develop eventual bacterial growth.
When dealing with an overflowing sink, your best line of defense is always to do your best to prevent it from happening. Thankfully, avoiding a sink flooding isn’t hard to do; you just have to keep in mind that most overflows happen due to a clogged drain. If you easily maintain it by keeping your drain clear, water should be able to flow to the sewers as intended. If not, you may end up dealing with some sink flooding.
Preventing Sink Flooding
One way to prevent sink flooding is by following these tips to keep your drain line clear:
- Don’t dispose of food scraps through your sink. As particles accumulate, they can form a solid clog that restricts water movement.
- Just because fat, oil and grease look fluid doesn’t mean they’ll go right along with water to the sewers. These substances can deposit and solidify in your drainage pipe and cause a clog.
- Avoid getting hair into your sink. Hair can create a barrier that prevents the escape of water into the sewage system.
- Always have a drain cover to filter out large, solid objects that may fall into your sink’s drainage pipe. Dispose of these particles in the trash.
HOW WATER DAMAGE CAN AFFECT YOUR WALLS
Water can wick up through the drywall and cause issues and leave hidden damage.
We know just how difficult a broken water pipe or an emergency storm can be. But are you aware of just how terrible water damage can be to your walls? We think naturally of the floors, as the forces of nature that we’re all familiar with tend to drag the water down there. However, the walls are just as important—and, if there’s drywall on your ceiling, you’ll need to be concerned about that too. It’s not just mold and aesthetic damage, either—too much water can lead to a collapse!
WHAT CAN WATER DO TO YOUR DRYWALL?
Well, the first thing that you need to know is that water can wick up through the drywall and cause issues. Even if the waternever touched the wall in an emergency, your walls can have plenty of water in them anyway, which can lead to appearance damage and structural issues with the drywall. The water can wick up the walls by 1 inch an hour, meaning that if the water sits for a day without any treatment, the water can be as far up on the wall as two feet.
Once the water is in the drywall, one of two things can happen. The first and most destructive end to the water damage is that of buckling and warping. You might not be familiar with this kind of wall water damage, but it’s definitely worth looking into. If the water saturates the drywall, it will collapse under its own weight. Gypsum (or plaster), being drywall’s main ingredient, is well known to absorb water and get much heavier as a result. The same can happen to your ceiling if it’s made of drywall, as well, with far more disastrous results.
Another big issue is that of mold and mildew. Gypsum is porous, as you might have guessed from its ability to absorb water. Well, because it’s porous and holds water, it can provide a great medium for mold growth both on the outside and the inside. If you start to see or smell the signs of mold, you may end up replacing that portion of the drywall (or the whole thing, if the problem gets too far out of hand).
WHAT IF I HAVE WOOD PANELING?
You’re still not safe from water damage if you have wood paneling. Buckling is not as big an issue for wood paneling, but damage can definitely occur. While the wood should be treated to prevent rotting, there’s always the chance that it’s not, especially if it’s particularly decorative (as treated lumber doesn’t look nearly as nice as untreated). There are also major issues of aesthetic damage, as lumber is extremely susceptible to discoloration and other issues with its appearance. Depending on the lacquer, the wood can lose that as well, meaning that while there’s fewer structural issues with wet wood wall damage, there are more issues of appearance which can cost just as much to fix as the drywall.
Tips For Drying Wet Carpet And Preventing Mold Growth
Wet carpet can cause damage to your home beyond just the flooring.
Whether you’re dealing with the aftermath of a flood or leaky pipe, coping with a soaked carpet is no laughing matter. Wet carpet can cause damage to your home beyond just the flooring – a problem that’s incredibly unpleasant.
If you have wet carpet, there’s no time to lose. Follow these steps for drying your carpet properly and preventing the spread of moisture and mildew.
1. Remove The Moisture
The most important part is first stopping water from flowing into the problem area. The easiest way to get the moisture or water out of your carpet is by removing it with a wet vacuum. Wet vacs are the perfect tool for getting rid of water in your carpet. They’re relatively inexpensive, and you can easily rent one if you think you may need a wet vac just once.
2. Assess Your Furniture
If you have furniture and fixtures in the room, check to see whether the moisture impacted those items. While you can remove, dry, and replace some objects, others – like upholstered furniture – may require more special attention. Unfortunately, you may have to dispose of items that have severe water damage.
3. Create Air Flow
Create as much airflow as possible in the wet area to help clear the odor and moisture from the room. Open windows, turn on fans and put a fan on the floor to help dry things out.
High-powered fans are best for this job. However, if you only have standard fans, a little airflow is better than none. Consider using a dehumidifier to remove even more moisture from the atmosphere.
4. Replace Carpet Padding
In most cases where water has saturated your carpet, your carpet padding is a goner. Replace it to prevent the main carpet from becoming saturated with mold.
5. Steam Clean
Steam cleaning wet carpet removes any toxins and deodorizes it. You can do this yourself or call a professional for help. Steam has a high enough temperature to kill any toxins, and also removes the toxins when the steam cleaner sucks up the dead mold spores.
6. Use Baking Soda
Baking soda works wonders when it comes to lifting and removing trapped moisture. Simply sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda over your wet carpet and allow it to sit for at least half an hour. Then, vacuum it up and enjoy fresh dry carpets.
7. Sanitize Other Room Surfaces
To further prevent the spread of mold and mildew, thoroughly clean the other surfaces in the room. Scrub the walls and baseboards to remove the remainder of water and any mildew from your room.
How to Prevent Chimney Fires this Winter
Chimney fires are dangerous, but they are preventable.
Chimney fires are dangerous, but they are preventable.
What causes chimney fires?
Creosote buildup in the flue that lines the chimney. Creosote is a highly flammable black or dark brown residue that is a by-product of combustion. This substance can be crusty, tar-like, sticky, or hardened. If there’s enough of it—and the internal flue temperature is high enough or sparks or flames reach it—a chimney fire can start.
How to prevent chimney fires:
- Have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year. If you’re using it daily, like a wood stove for heating, multiple cleanings will be needed each year.
- Burn “clean” fires. That means fires with more flame, less smoke. To get a clean fire, burn seasoned wood that has been drying for a year or more. Keep it undercover until use so it is dry when added to the firebox. Avoid burning evergreens—they tend to pop and spark more than hardwoods, creating a fire hazard.
- Keep the damper fully open. Restricted air supply from a partially closed damper adds to creosote buildup.
- Be smart about what you're burning. Some people start their fires with rolled-up newspaper logs. Avoid burning glossy pages, wrapping paper, or cardboard, which may release nasty chemicals. Never put the paper on top of a fire; feed it under the grate so burning fragments don’t rise up the flue and cause a chimney fire.