DEAR BARRY: I’m writing to share some fireplace maintenance advice that may be of benefit to your readers. Let them know they can save the cost of a chimney sweep by burning their Christmas tree after the holiday season. The high heat produced by the pine oils will burn out the creosote in the flue, leaving it as clean as a whistle.
DEAR ARNIE: Burning your Christmas tree in your fireplace is an ill-conceived and terribly dangerous procedure. Please reconsider this hazardous practice. You may have gotten away with it in the past, but that is no guarantee you will continue to be so lucky.
Risky behavior without consequence does not ensure against future calamity. Some people have managed to drive under the influence without causing an accident, but we can all agree that doing so is as foolish as it is illegal. Sooner or later, both practices, Christmas tree burning and DUIs, are likely to incur unfortunate results.
Your recommendation is dangerous because the creosote that accumulates in your chimney is a highly combustible fuel. When it ignites, unusually high temperatures can literally melt a metal chimney and can cause structural cracks in masonry ones. Without realizing it, you may already have damaged your chimney. You could even be venting hot smoke into your attic, allowing excess heat to char the wood framing.
My advice is to have your chimney inspected by a certified chimney sweep and to cease and desist from practicing Russian roulette with your fireplace….