BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Flooded homeowners have spent months checking for mold and moisture and replacing drywall and appliances, but how many homeowners included their fireplace among those flood-wrecked items?
"We've had people tear out fireplaces six to eight weeks after the flood and they're finding water still in it," said Robbie Sandlin of Woodburners, Inc.
Woodburners Fireplaces in Baton Rouge says the demand for fireplace repairs and replacements has more than doubled since the flood. Unfortunately, Sandlin says many homeowners don't know what flood water can do to a fireplace. According to Sandlin, most manufacturers recommend completely replacing any fireplace that's taken on water because water damage is nearly impossible to repair and can lead to major fire risks down the road.
For example, Sandlin says many modern, prefabricated fireplaces have some type of insulation around the top or sides. If that insulation gets wet, it can break away and create a hot spot, which can spark a fire.
Sandlin adds the risk is the same for wood burning or gas fire places. He says water can rust or corrode gas valves, which can lead to unknown problems.
"[Flooded] fire places need to be replaced. I would rather people tear it out and not replace it than to just leave it in there," said Sandlin.
Fortunately, Sandlin says flood insurance should cover a fireplace replacement, and most manufacturers can provide a letter of explanation to the insurance company.
As winter weather approaches, safety experts say the overall risk for a house fire goes up. According to the Baton Rouge Fire Department, heating systems are the third leading cause of house fires. So now is the time for every homeowner to prepare.
"Whatever heating equipment you use in your home, whether it's a heating system, a fireplace, we recommend you get those inspected by a licensed professional before use every year," said BRFD spokesman Curt Monte. BRFD also warns homeowners to never use an extension cord to plug in a space heater and keep them at least three feet from anything that burns. Also, never use an oven or stove top range to heat your home.