Not Doing This Before Winter Could Endanger Your Home

chimney sweeping
Now that the temperatures have changed into cooler days and evenings, this is the best time to begin the process of winterizing your home. There are a few prepping musts that homeowners need do annually to ensure the home is prepped and ready for winter – one of those is ensuring your fireplace is in proper working order. Whether you make a choice to have a professional clean it or decide to go the DIY route, it should be done before you plan on lighting that first fire.

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To provide proper maintenance and preventing the release of toxic gasses in your home, chimneys should be maintained annually. If you are using wood that contains excessive amounts of sap, consider cleaning it twice. If you fail to do so has been known to cause house fires and or property damage.

One practical solution is to purchase a chimney sweep and clean the chimney yourself. In the video below, you will see how easy cleaning your chimney is.

Dangers of Not Cleaning Your Chimney

All wood creates creosote. Perhaps one of the most damaging byproducts of burning wood is the presence of creosote, a highly flammable and can lead to house fires. According to this website, always watch for signs of buildup including dark, smelly smoke or soot on the furniture. Smoke filling the home is another danger sign, as is internal temperatures below 300-degrees Fahrenheit for a wood stove. Clean your chimney at least once a year — more often for heavy use — to remove inevitable accumulation and burn pine and other wood safely.

Carbon monoxide is a risk. This poisonous gas is produced when fuels that contain carbon (such as coal, gasoline, wood, charcoal, kerosene and natural gas) do not burn completely. Breathing in carbon monoxide fumes damages your body, organs to shut down and inevitably cause death. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are as followed:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

If you or any family members exhibit these symptoms, leave the area and seek medical attention. A way to circumvent this is to have carbon monoxide detectors placed strategically around the house and especially near the fireplace.

Soot is another toxic byproduct caused by fires and puts tiny particles of carbon in the air that will inevitably pollute the very air you breathe. It can travel deep into the lung, where the compounds it consists of can do some serious damage. Soot adheres to walls, furniture or any other surface that is cooler than the fire. To prevent soot buildup:

  • Always burn well-seasoned wood in your wood stove. Burning wood that hasn’t been well-seasoned can decrease the quality of your fire and cause it to be “smoky.” Smokier fires produce more soot build up on the glass.
  • Try burning harder woods like oak, cherry, or walnut, and avoid burning woods known for their higher sap content.
  • If your wood stove has a heat setting, try turning the heat controls up a few notches. Hotter fires will keep your glass cleaner.
  • Allow enough oxygen to vent into your wood stove. Many of the newer models are already built to help with air flow. Check the chimney/vent to make sure it’s clean and in a good position for air flow.
  • If you’re burning smaller fires, try adding some more wood to the wood stove. Smaller fires can’t always produce enough heat inside the wood stove for the soot to burn off the glass.
  • Position burning matter closer to the front glass on the wood stove. This will put the heat source closer to the glass.


Many homesteaders and preparedness minded individuals have woodburning stoves in the home and rely on them to work properly – especially in off-grid situations. Like all preparedness tools, you need to keep these primed and ready to go.

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published June 19th, 2017
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