There are few things cozier than bundling up in front of the fireplace with a cup of cocoa during the wintertime. But before you set those logs ablaze this season, it’s important that you ensure your fireplace is in proper working order. It’s just as important that you and your family know how to use your fireplace correctly. Whether you have a gas fireplace, a wood burning fireplace, or a wood burning fireplace with a gas starter, it’s crucial to know how it works.
A large percentage of home fires are stared from chimneys and fireplaces so it’s important to follow these safety tips this cold weather season:
Clean Your Chimney
It is recommended that your chimney be swept once a year. The buildup of soot and creosote in your chimney throughout the year can lead to a chimney fire. This can easily spread to your roof and then the rest of your home. A professional chimney cleaning will not only remove the debris so you can have a safe fire, but will ensure your flue system is working as it should be.
Check for Damage
While your chimney sweep is cleaning the inside, they should also do an inspection of the outside of your chimney as well. Normal wear and tear on the exterior of your home can lead to cracks, loose bricks, or missing mortar. These items should be repaired to ensure full functionality.
Cap the Chimney
If you don’t have one, get one. If you have one but it’s seen better days, replace it. A chimney cap will keep moisture out of your home and keep embers from making their way up the chimney and onto your roof. It also will stop those pesky animals, leaves, and sticks from making their way into your house.
Use the Right Wood
If you have a wood burning fireplace, you should only be using seasoned hardwoods. The wood should be dense and stored in a dry place for at least six months before burning. Green woods will produce more creosote and wet wood will not burn properly in your fireplace.
There is no need to pile up too many logs when making a fire at home. The more logs you add means the more smoke it produces. Too much smoke will lead to a bigger accumulation of creosote. You can also get too much heat and damage your fireplace and chimney with a large fire.
Build a Fire the Right Way
When building your fire, your logs should always sit on a metal grate in the rear of the fireplace. The flue should be open before your light anything to allow for proper ventilation. Rather than using a liquid starter, you should use kindling to get the fire going. And once you have your fire lit, you should have a spark guard in place, like glass doors or a mesh screen, to keep embers from popping out of the fireplace.