Posts tagged with "Safety"

National Fire Prevention Week – Washington, DC

This October 5th-11th marks the 93rd year the National Fire Prevention Association holds their Fire Prevention Campaign. The campaign was first launched in 1922 after President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire (October 8th, 1871).

This year the theme is “Working smoke alarms save lives, test yours every month!” As part of the theme the NFPA has released some tips for installing, checking, and maintaining smoke alarms. Continue reading

About Chimney Sweep Certifications – The Need To Know

Chimney Sweep Certifications to Enhance Expertise

Chimney sweeps play important roles in our lives: they keep our fireplaces and chimneys happy and healthy so we can stay warm!  Kind of like a doctor for our chimneys!  These pros have to know what they’re doing when they stick their heads inside a chimney, and to do that, chimney sweeps obtain specialized training and the highest certifications in their field possible.  So what credentials do good, qualified chimney sweeps have?  There are a few necessary certifications, and we’ll look at those as well as what it takes to earn them.  Keep reading to learn more!

Continue reading

Weirdest Things Found in Chimneys in 2013

At High’s Chimney, we’ve shared just about everything there is to know about the chimney business, including a few bizarre stories (criminals, chimney accidents, etc.).  You’d be surprised what chimney sweeps find in their line of work!  A few odd tales have come down the pipeline in 2013 alone.  So what’s made sweeps around the world stop and do a double-take lately?  Let’s see…

“A 16-year-old boy…a family friend.”

16year-old-stuck-in-chimney (1)

Credit: KCAL

It’s great to be able to say that your grandma loves your friends like family.  Unfortunately for a woman in North Hills, CA, her trust was misplaced.  Pat Hawkins always treated her grandson’s friend like one of her own, but after the 16-year old was found stuck in her chimney in August, she’ll likely be more careful.  The boy managed to make it 10 feet down into the structure, a plan LAPD claimed was executed in attempt to burglarize grandma, before becoming stuck.  The teen was only trapped for around 30 minutes, leaving him relatively unharmed, but emerged from the chimney in supposed victory, waving to cameras.  He probably wasn’t as eager when shown to his prison cell!

“Ma’am, you have a duck in your chimney.”

img via Bruce Cowan

Image via Bruce Cowan

Back in June, Rhode Island woman Susie Cabassas scheduled a routine chimney cleaning.  The technicians who came out to do the job found the usual suspects—soot, ash, etc.  What Ms. Cabassas didn’t expect, however, was for her sweep to tell her, “Ma’am, you have a duck in your chimney.”  With some help from the homeowner, the chimney sweep on the job managed to get the duck out safe and sound, allowing it to tumble from the damper to a pile of ash at the base of the fireplace.  As Ms. Cabassas said herself, the animal became “one lucky duck,” having been swaddled in a towel and released outside by the chimney sweep after a quick photo op.  Lucky duck, indeed, as it was pure coincidence that the chimney cleaning was scheduled for that day!

“A Mysteriously Naked Man in Central Berlin.”

homless-man-stuck-in-chimney (1)

Homeless Man Stuck in Chimney

There have been plenty of stories of burglars attempting to sneak into homes the Santa Claus way (like the one above).  A 39-year-old man in Berlin, Germany, however, doesn’t quite fit the bill.  In fact, no one really knew what to make of him when he was found nude, 30 feet down a chimney in January.  Some claimed that the unidentified victim was homeless or that he’d run away from a hospital, but no clear answers were found.  Police had a tough time rescuing him, and grasping onto a rope had failed.  Finally, fire rescue personnel succeeded in freeing who Reuter’s called a “mysteriously naked man” by drilling a hole in the structure to reach him.  Luckily the man was OK, however he’d lost consciousness prior to his rescue and had to be resuscitated and was described as having become very cold.

Truth be told, just about anything you can think of could get stuck inside of a chimney.  People, pests, objects…anything!  As chimney pros, we’ll never stop running into strange things, and it’s tough to surprise us. But once in a while a story is just too weird not to share!  Ever have your own unique encounter?  Share it with us in the comments below!

 

 

 

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

carbon monoxide symptoms

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Source: gassaferegister.co.uk/learn/carbon_monoxide_kills.aspx

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, immediately move the affected person away from the suspected source of carbon monoxide into a ventilated source of fresh air and call 911.

A Preventable Tragedy

When most people think of fireplaces, they instinctively think of feelings of warmth, coziness, or the calming and romantic ambiance that accompanies a fire’s glow and crackle. Nobody thinks of carbon monoxide poisoning.

But blocked chimneys or flues are actually responsible for many of the ailments and fatalities linked to carbon monoxide exposure.

We cannot see or smell carbon monoxide, but high levels of exposure can kill us in a matter of minutes. Carbon monoxide poisoning claims roughly 500 deaths each year in the U.S. alone. Many more people are sickened every year by low-level exposure. Although they don’t feel well, they commonly write off their symptoms as the flu or the start of a cold.

How Carbon Monoxide Kills

how CO poisoning works

©2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Carbon monoxide tricks the body into thinking it is oxygen. All the while actually prohibiting it from carrying oxygen to vital organs like the brain, heart and lungs.

This is because the protein hemoglobin, used by red blood cells to move oxygen through the body, actually prefers CO to oxygen. Whenever carbon monoxide is inhaled, the CO rapidly bonds with the hemoglobin in our red blood cells. This squeezes oxygen out of available space and prevents it from being transported throughout the body. This lack of oxygen quite literally sucks the life out of its victims.

Damage depends on the severity of the leak and level of overall exposure. Victims of higher-level exposure may suddenly collapse or fall into a deep sleep that they never awake from. Victims of low-level exposure may complain for days or weeks of ailments like a headache and some fatigue before the sudden onset of more serious symptoms like shortness of breath, disorientation, vomiting and loss of consciousness.

Particularly vulnerable are the elderly and children.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Is Preventable

Most carbon monoxide deaths are completely preventable, usually the result of homeowner oversight or negligence. Sadly, many people fail to take the necessary precautions to ensure their chimney is properly working prior to using their fireplace.

A number of seemingly harmless things can prevent proper chimney or flue ventilation. Here are a few common suspects:

  • Autumn leaves
  • Bird nests
  • Spider webs
  • Construction debris from home renovations or repairs
  • Accumulated debris from previous fireplace use

To prevent the above, regular chimney maintenance efforts like the following are suggested:

  • Use a wire screen to prevent debris like leaves and bird nests, or even animals like raccoons, from getting into the chimney
  • Make sure the mortar between each brick is in good condition and isn’t cracking or flaking
  • Get into the routine of having your chimney periodically inspected and swept at least once a year
  • Regularly clean out ashes, soot and other debris from the fireplace

This relatively minor chimney maintenance, coupled with at least one carbon monoxide detector for every bedroom in your home, can go a long way to ensure the safety and health of you and your loved ones.

3 Strange and Unfortunate Chimney Accidents

It’s not news that roofs and chimneys can become hazardous places. What is news are the strange things that actually happen around chimneys. In the past few years, the world has seen some bizarre chimney accidents, from falls to car damage.

2011, Lorraine, France

In early November of 2011, an enthusiastic astronomer named Yoan climbed the roof of the unused factory, Crevéchamps in Meurthe et Moselle, and onto the chimney to see an asteroid pass by Earth. Bearing the additional weight of both his backpack and computer, a few rungs of Yoan’s ladder collapsed, trapping him on the chimney.

In his struggle high in the sky, Yoan made the top of the chimney crumble, the noise of the falling bricks luckily awakening a nearby neighbor. Though firemen arrived to assist in good time, Yoan stayed perched on the chimney into the wee hours of the morning, not wanting to come down until 6:30AM that day!

2012, Chicago, Illinois

Hotel Intercontinental, Credit: thecount.com

In mid-December just last year, a young Minnesota native found his way up to the roof of the Hotel Intercontinental in Chicago to take scenic photos of the city at night. Nicholas Wiem, standing atop the 40+ story building, unfortunately lost his footing during the endeavor and fell into the hotel’s chimney. At first he simply suffered a few burns, seeming, for the most part, to be alright as Wiem texted and called his girlfriend during the ordeal. Given the fall, burns, and toxins that resided within the chimney, however, Weim passed away prior to being rescued from the shaft, an endeavor which took 4 hours, police and fire crews and a Michigan Avenue road closure to complete.

2013, UK

Perhaps the oddest chimney incident in recent history happened only a few weeks ago at the end of January and combined the forces of a chimney, strong wind and a parked car. As crazy as it may seem, chimney debris actually blew off of a house in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, England. Though no one was hurt and the whole chimney itself certainly did not break off and plummet onto the Fiat parked below, a great deal of bricks did, damaging 23-year old Julius Benjamin’s car enough to require his landlord to pay for the damage.

Accidents can happen no matter what you do. However, a good lesson we can take away from these examples is to exercise caution around both roofs and chimneys. Roofs in public spaces are certainly not playgrounds and are generally off-limits to visitors—so respect that. One could hardly give advice on rogue chimney bricks hitting cars, as it is relatively unheard of, however if a structure looks unsound it’s best to stay clear of it (both you and your car). And if you absolutely must access the exterior of a chimney, leave the work to the pros.

Chimney Health Hazards: Things You Should Know

Our chimneys, in conjunction with the fireplaces they support, help to provide us with much warmth during the colder months.  They can, however, have various adverse effects on our health.  Of course, one shouldn’t live in fear of this, though it is wise to have a working knowledge of chimney and fireplace health hazards.  Let’s look at some ways in which your chimney may be more foe than friend.

creosoteCreosote Exposure

Creosote is an oily black substance that can potentially build up inside your chimney flue because of incomplete wood combustion.  Not only does this stuff sound nasty, but it can also produce some undesirable health effects, such as:

  • Skin Irritation. Physical contact with creosote buildup can cause rashes and other major skin issues.
  • Eye Irritation. Creosote debris that gets on/in the eyes will irritate them, sometimes to the point of feeling burning sensations or actual chemical burns.  Sensitivity to light is also possible.
  • Respiratory Problems. Breathing in creosote particles for a length of time often catches up with the person exposed, as lung and other respiratory issues may develop.
  • Abdominal Issues. Creosote carries with it the potential to irritate both one’s kidneys and liver.
  • Mental Problems. Serious exposure to creosote will cause seizures and confusion in some people.
  • Cancer. Though this greatest health effect has not occurred often from chimney use, creosote exposure does have the potential to cause skin cancer.

"Soot" covered youngster

No children were harmed in this photo. (Source: www.amberdusick.com)

Chimney Soot Inhalation

Chimney soot is another contaminant resulting from incomplete combustion, and it forms when wood does not burn hot enough (less than 284 degrees).  This powdery brown or black dust sticks to the inside of chimneys (sometimes escaping into the air) and carries a few risks similar to creosote, such as:

  • Lung Hazard. Like creosote, if chimney soot is inhaled in great enough amounts, it has the potential to either irritate the lungs or cause lung diseases.
  • Respiratory Risks. In conjunction with lung problems, general respiratory infections may crop up due to soot inhalation.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a hazardous gas that is odorless, colorless and tasteless, making it notoriously hard to detect.  The gas is a result of incomplete combustion due to insufficient oxygen to finish oxidation.  In this case, it doesn’t make it to the carbon dioxide form.  When Carbon monoxide makes it into the air, several health problems may emerge:

  • Flu-like Symptoms. Carbon monoxide taken into the body in small amounts may mirror flu characteristics, including fatigue, nausea, confusion or headache.
  • Organ Troubles. The more carbon monoxide you inhale, the worse the impacts on your health.  Breathing in large quantities (At once or over time) of this gas may result in brain damage or heart problems, and at its worst even death.

chimney swift nestChimney Swifts and Histoplasmosis

Chimney swifts are small, brownish black birds with an affinity for taking up residence inside residential chimneys.  The birds themselves are little more than annoying, though what they leave behind may cause problems.  Their droppings may cause histoplasmosis, a respiratory infection caused by histplasma capsulatum, a fungus.  Symptoms generally look like a mild illness or flu, and include:

  • Chronic Cough. Coughing a lot?  It might be a sign of a larger problem from your chimney.
  • Chest Pain. Chest pain is never something to ignore, and if you knowingly have chimney swifts, it may be worth it to mention to the doctor.
  • Fever, Chills or Sweats. Though usually associated with the flu, these symptoms may be the result of extreme buildup of histplasma capsulatum in your chimney.
  • Lack of Appetite and Weight Loss. While you may simply be under the weather when this happens, if this or any of the above symptoms have joined forces, those chimney swifts may be to blame.

None of these things are particularly enjoyable to cope with.  So, the underlying message is simple: take precautions and clean your chimney.  Chimney sweeps can determine if any internal structures of your chimney are damaged, contributing to buildup problems.  Additionally, chimney sweeps will remove creosote, soot and chimney swift deposits, resulting in decreased health risks.  You may also consider having your home checked for carbon monoxide and also install a carbon monoxide detector.  With a better knowledge of chimney risks, you can now enjoy wintertime fires more responsibly!

Animals and Birds Inside Your Chimney

racoon in chimneyA number of factors go into maintaining both the safety and overall condition of your chimney.  We know that hazards like residue buildup can cause problems, but many of us don’t remember the smaller nuisances—chimney pests.  A number of unwanted critters can find their way into your chimney, so let’s talk about what those are and how to rid yourself of them.

Birds in the Chimney

chimney swiftIf there is an opening in your chimney, birds often find it tempting to make their way inside.  One notable pest affecting residents in the Washington DC area is the chimney swift.  Chimney swifts are little brownish black birds with a penchant for building nests the chimney.  Unfortunately, once a swift makes its way into your chimney, you’ll likely be stuck with it for a few weeks, as chimney swift chicks hang about the nest for 14-18 days.  Having these birds in the chimney can be quite annoying—they’re vocal little buggers!

When you find yourself plagued by chimney swifts, which are classified as a Threatened species, there isn’t much that you may legally do about it.  The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal regulation, prevents removal of chimney swift eggs and chicks.  To remove the birds by means chemical or otherwise would require a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The best you can do with swifts is to clean up after they’ve gone.  Technicians can be called in later to clean up and remove nest remnants from the chimney. Chimney swifts and most other birds are less likely to return to a nesting location if the nest has been removed.

Animals in the Chimney

Several animals can get into your chimney, including squirrels and bats.  A particularly pesky intruder in the DC area is the raccoon.  Raccoons, usually females, make their way into chimneys to birth and care for pups.  Crafty as they are, mother raccoons sometimes succeed in not only getting inside the chimney, but passing through the smoke shelf or chimney damper right above the fireplace.  If they’ve gotten this far, there’s a good chance of eventually making their way into your home.  If not, you’ll likely have to at least contend with various animal odors.

raccoons in chimneyA raccoon is an animal you never want to have hanging around, as they are notorious for carrying a variety of diseases.  Raccoons are home to bugs like fleas and ticks, which you or your pets can get, and also diseases like rabies and roundworm.

raccoon in trapLuckily, there are ways to remove mama and her babies from the chimney.  If you don’t mind the smell, items like predator urine may get rid of raccoons.  A humane method of removal is the live trap. Raccoon trapping is legal in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia, and several services are available. You’ll likely want to trap the mother while she passes through the chimney liner or even attempt to scare her out in some manner.  The babies don’t put up much of a fight quite yet, so it’s pretty simple to reach up the fireplaces and grab them.

The Ultimate Protection

The absolute best way to protect your chimney, fireplace, and ultimately your home from pest intrusion is to make sure you have a chimney cap.  If the top of the chimney is not closed off, you’re just asking for something to get inside it.  The best bet is to install a chimney cap that has an attached wire netting that will act as an additional barrier between pests and the chimney.

Obviously several chimney animals wish to invade your home, and they can be quite a nuisance. From loud chirping to unpleasant odors, these pests can create huge problems.  Take proper measures to protect your home.  Doing this will ensure that you won’t have to deal with birds or raccoons in the first place!

Image sources: mainstreetj.com, birdspix.com, and humanesociety.org

Why You Should Not Remove 3rd Degree Creosote from Tile Liners

In part 1 of this series, we explained the three stages of creosote buildup. In part 2, we explained how to remove creosote.

Now for the case for not removing 3rd degree creosote from tile chimney liners.

In tile-lined chimneys, it’s the exceptional chimney that has good mortar joints.  In fact, if I were to blindly bet ten people $10 that their chimneys have poorly sealed mortar joints and then we investigated with a closed circuit chimney inspection camera, I stand a good chance of making $100.  I might lose one or two $10 bets, but that’s about all.

The problem with having openings in the system is that liquid creosote can and does go through the joints and/or cracks and accumulates outside of the flue tile.  This is a very serious problem because in a chimney fire this creosote ignites as well and becomes a slow-burning creosote fire not contained inside of a liner.  A house fire becomes a much greater possibility.

It is probably best to consider unsafe any chimney that has had 3rd degree creosote in it, especially if there has been a chimney fire.  Frankly, even if servicemen remove as much creosote as possible, the cleaning does not yield as much safety you’d hope for.

In short, it’s probably best to remove the old tiles completely (getting rid of creosote on the outside of the tiles as well) and replace the liner with a new insulated stainless steel liner.  Here’s why.

The reasons there are bad mortar joints or cracks in chimneys are numerous, including:

  • Some masons “work too fast” and don’t think it’s actually important to seal the joints.
  • The wrong mortar is very often used, or dries too quickly and falls out after construction.
  • The earth is always shifting and the stack of tiles moves over time.  This can open mortar joints and sometimes even crack the tiles.  No matter how good the original job may have been, no one can protect against this.
  • Flue tiles that have contained a chimney fire almost always crack.  They protect the home from fire, but the tiles themselves usually break and mortar is demolished.  This is actually to be expected; it’s the exception if it doesn’t happen.

Before the 1970’s wood heating appliances had lower heating efficiencies.  This was partly because the wood was not as fully consumed, but also because a lot more heat went up the chimney.  This combination usually produced 2nd degree creosote, which is manageable.  Today’s wood burning stoves are very well engineered to get more heat from less wood, and houses are tighter than ever.  Chimneys routinely create 3rd degree creosote (because of the lack of combustion air and the low flue gas temperatures.)

This is why you see so much stainless steel chimney lining done these days.  The chimneys of America are undergoing change as they are being properly sized to their appliances, either by upgrade or by repair.  The stainless steel liners are:

  • The right size for whatever appliance they serve.
  • Flexible enough to shift with the earth.
  • Able to withstand chimney fires without breaking.

Installing Chimney LiningOne reason why more people don’t reline is that reline jobs may cost more than people were planning for; another reason is that many folks just don’t understand the need.  It’s going to take a long time to convert America’s chimneys if either insurance companies or building codes don’t speed up the process by insisting that people change over to a stainless steel liner (or not be allowed to burn wood).

How to Remove Creosote – About Creosote Part 2

As mentioned before in this series’ first post about creosote, there are three degrees, or stages, of creosote buildup. Chimney brushes are the standard method for removing first and second degree creosote.

chimney brush

However, sometimes second degree creosote will be hard enough to remove that other methods would work better:

  • There are flat wire brushes which are pretty effective.  They are expensive.  If there’s a very thin coat of creosote on the chimney wall a flat wire brush will do a fair job of removing that too.
  • There is special equipment for just this type of creosote.  A rotary loop which is a stainless steel cable fixed to a hub that is put on special metal rods turned by a powerful drill (this process burns up regular drills) This method is quite effective.
  • There are chemical creosote removers.  They come in two kinds: the ones that take time and the ones that work fast.  So said, “fast” still means a couple days.  Fast chemicals definitely work, but they are not used much just because of the safety considerations and the expense of the return trip involved.  They are very caustic and they can make a very big mess.
  • Other chemicals, such as ACS or CreAway are effective over time, but are most useful as good maintenance.  CreAway can actually reverse many problems given some time (weeks to months) provided one changes his burning habits.  Continuing to burn the same way as you did to develop the problem in the first place has to stop if you want your chimney to clean up.  (Consult your chimney sweep or the stove’s owner’s manual for best burning practices)

Third degree creosote removal is the most challenging of all.  And sometimes it’s not worth removing the creosote- there’s often a very good case to be made for taking out the old chimney liner and putting in a new and different one.  But first the removal options:

  • The chemicals mentioned above can work if the creosote hasn’t been on fire.  If the chimney walls just look like they have been coated with tar, the chemicals can work.  The caustic chemicals, if used at all, are usually reserved for this type of problem.
  • The flat wire brush and the rotary loop don’t stand a chance.
  • If the creosote is hard there is a rotary head with chains that will do a rather effective job.  Contrary to intuition, the chains will not break flue tiles.  However, in chimneys that have been abused so that there is 3rd degree creosote the tiles are very often already broken.  As a general statement it’s hard to find a sweep that will do rotary-chain-cleaning because he’ll get blamed for breaking the tiles.  Even so, this is an option, and probably the most effective immediate-removal option.
  • And sadly, you should probably have low expectations for how clean the chimney can ever be again.  Once it’s been full of 3rd degree creosote, even specialized removal tools can get the chimney only so-clean.

In Part 3 we’ll discuss why it’s not a good idea to try to remove 3rd degree creosote from a tile chimney and then reuse it.

6 Weird Things You Would Never Expect to Find in Chimneys

Chimney

What do dead bodies, burglars, nearly $1.5 million dollars and poison have to do with each other? You might think this is the latest Guy Ritchie screenplay, but you’d be wrong. The truth is that all of these things have been found inside chimneys. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, really, since people don’t usually spend too much time looking up their flue (though they really should). Think about it; when’s the last time you inspected your own chimney?

#6 Proof that DDT Kills Birds

Poison-Bottle

Researchers at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario made a strange discovery in a decommissioned Chimney in a campus building – over fifty years’ worth of bird droppings. Researchers dug in (literally) and found that the bird droppings showed sharp decreases in beetles in the diet of insect-eating birds that frequented the chimney. The dramatic decline of the beetle population was due to the use of the infamous chemical DDT, which the beetles were especially susceptible to.  This, in turn, lead to a decrease of the population of the swifts that used the chimney, further damaging the already notorious reputation of the DDT compound.

#5 More than £870,000 in cash

Cash

On the other side of the pond in the UK, police found £871,495 up the chimney stack in the Bradford home of Baber Bashir, a conman who had acquired his ill-gotten gains largely through an unspecified fraud. Found tucked in his chimney, the cash amounted to just around $1.5 million USD by today’s standards, making it easily the most valuable chimney in Bradford. That is, before all the money was confiscated by the police and Mr. Bashir and company were locked up for their crimes.

#4 Dead cats and shoes

Evanston-Chimney-Shoe-Ritual

Image Source: http://bit.ly/I5mW6y

On the other side of the world in Australia, you might not be too surprised to find a dead cat or a shoe inside your chimney. Reason being, early Australian settlers were very superstitious, and often would hide either a shoe or, in some more morbid cases, a dead cat inside their chimneys. The practice is believed to have come to Australia by way Britain from an ancient Roman practice to ward off evil spirits. Homeowners put these totems in parts of their homes where evil spirits might lurk.

#3 A Burglar

Ranaldo-Jack-Burglar-Mugshot

Image Source: http://bit.ly/Jx1cU0

Believe it or not, Santa can serve as an inspiration for more than just altruism. In Georgia, an Atlanta area teen took a page out of the red-suited man’s book when he tried to burglarize a home by slipping through the chimney. After spending ten hours overnight trapped in the flue, he finally cried for help and caught the attention of a neighbor who called the police. After getting pulled from the flue, he went from out of the fire and into the frying pan as he was immediately arrested. To add fuel to the flames, the would-be-burglar made another poor choice by providing police with a false name when they arrested him, really putting him in ‘hot water’.

#2 A Letter to Santa (from 1912)

100-Year-Old-Letter-Santa

Image Source: http://bit.ly/JlYEna

On a lighter note on the Santa side of things, a Dublin, Ireland man found a note to Santa when cleaning his fireplace; but not just any note. This note, believed to be penned by Hannah and Alfred Howard, somehow survived 100 years on a shelf on the inside of the fireplace. Despite constant use of the fireplace throughout that entire time, the letter has only a small amount of burn damage and is in remarkably good condition. Featuring a detailed, if terse, list of toys and treats the two children desired, it ends with a friendly ‘Good Luck’, and has a few illustrations to go along with it.

#1 A Dead Body (from 1984)

Skull

There’s no shortage of bodies found in chimneys, as they seem to make a good hiding place for less-savory characters, but this particular body has a pretty interesting history behind it. Joseph Schexnider, a former National Guard serviceman, was due to appear in court in 1984, an appearance that he never made. Known in his family for frequently skipping town, they thought little of it. For twenty-seven years, they presumed that he was on the lamb from charges of possession of a stolen vehicle. Then, in May of 2011, the local bank began renovating it’s second floor, previously used only as storage space. Inside the chimney they discovered Joseph’s remains. He hadn’t suffered any broken bones or apparent trauma, so investigators ruled the death accidental.

And the list goes on…

Chimneys are strange places – even though many households have and use them it’s rare that homeowners take a peek and see what might be hidden from view. Take a look, and maybe you’ll find something for us to feature in a future sequel to this post! Although you probably won’t find any treasure, you should be checking for creosote build-up, for the safety of your family. Build-up’s can be dangerous, and if they catch fire, they can burn your entire house down to the ground. Take a look up there today!

Find anything strange in your chimney? Let us know in the comments below.

Sources:
http://abcnews.go.com/US/skeleton-found-chimney-27-years-man-disappeared/story?id=14169501
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2011/1221/1224309341785.html
http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/8304816.Man_jailed_over___870_000_cash_found_in_Heaton_house_chimney_stack/
http://www.care2.com/causes/48-year-old-dung-deposit-links-ddt-to-bird-decline.html
http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/04/02/3469167.htm?site=newcastle
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45323384/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/hes-no-santa-burglary-suspect-stuck-hours-chimney/