Tips for fireplaces, plumbing during freezing temperatures

Lighting an unused or unchecked one can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, death, or a hazard to your home.

COLUMBIA, SC — Before the temperatures plummet, it’s time to make sure your fireplace is working and those pipes are protected.

As temperatures drop, thoughts turn to snuggling next to a warm fire. But if you haven’t used or checked your chimney in over a year, things could get dangerous.

According to chimney sweep Drew Stein, lighting an unchecked fireplace is just plain dangerous and can result in carbon monoxide poisoning, death, or danger to your home.

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According to Stein, the maintenance of fireplaces and gas heaters is crucial. “It’s one of those things that needs constant maintenance.”

Stein says he was inundated with calls ahead of the winter weather, receiving between 65 and 75 a day, which he says is not normal even for this time of year.

Stein says it’s dangerous to light a fireplace or gas stove that isn’t used often.

“If it hasn’t been used for a very long time, the sand settles in these burner pans and gas can get trapped in here. And when it starts, there will be a big bang.”

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When was your fireplace or gas heater last serviced? Experts tell me if you haven’t checked in the last 12 months you are putting yourself and your family at risk. @WLTX

— Eleanor Tabone (@EleanorTabone) January 21, 2022

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But if you don’t have a chimney or gas stove, you still have to worry – your pipes.

Plumber James Carwell says in freezing weather people need to know how to turn off their water if pipes burst. He says there are a number of things homeowners can do to make sure the water is flowing.

“Cover those outside faucets with an insulated cover,” suggests Carwell. “Leave the faucet running and let it trickle a little.”

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Carwell also suggests opening cabinet doors around the plumbing under sinks. This lets warm air in.

Mike DeSumma of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department (CRFD) says you need to be careful when using a space heater or electric blanket.

“You have to make sure you keep it at least three feet away from anything that can burn,” DeSumma said. “Don’t stay on a carpet. Keep it on a hard surface.”

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