As you head into the colder months, it’s important to take steps to keep your fireplace safe while you are using it this winter. A fireplace makes the home cozy when it’s cold outside. However, if it hasn’t been properly maintained, it can also become a fire hazard. Make sure you are using your fireplace safely by taking these precautions.
Inspect the Chimney to Keep Your Fireplace Safe
Have you had the chimney swept? This is something that needs to be scheduled on an annual basis before your first fire of the season. Call a chimney sweep to come in and perform this work for you. You should also inspect the chimney cap. If it’s missing or not working correctly, then you’re inviting pests and debris into your chimney.
Keep Your Fireplace Safe With the Right Firewood
Now is the time to bring in some wood and stock the rack. Your firewood should be seasoned for at least six months before burning it in your fireplace. Dry wood produces less dense smoke than green wood, which can cause dangerous creosote buildup inside the chimney.
Don’t add too much wood when building a fire. Smaller fires produce less heat and less smoke. If you get the fire temperature too high, it can cause cracks in the chimney.
Inspect the Area Around the Fireplace
Another way to keep your fireplace safe is to make sure the area close to the fire isn’t a fire hazard. Get rid of any decorations or wall hangings that have been placed near the hearth. Those items look nice, but all it takes is one spark to fly out of the fireplace and ignite something flammable.
Inspect all fire alarms in the house to make sure they are working. Have a fire extinguisher in an accessible place close to the fireplace.
Keep Your Fireplace Safe With Carbon Monoxide Alarms
All homes should have smoke detectors placed in bedrooms, on all floors, and near the kitchen. Make sure you have carbon monoxide alarms installed, too. If a fireplace is not venting correctly, dangerous carbon monoxide could fill the room and put your family at risk. Keep your fireplace safe by using carbon monoxide alarms to alert you to dangerous levels.
Clean Up After Each Fire
Remember that cleaning up is also an effective way to keep your fireplace safe. Clean the hearth each time by getting rid of debris and ashes left behind by the fire. Keep in mind that it can take 24 hours for a fire to completely die out. Unseen embers may still be burning under the ashes. Don’t clean it out too soon and dispose of ashes that might cause a fire in the trash. Wait 24 hours, douse the ashes with water, and then dispose of them.
Using a fireplace during the winter adds extra warmth to your home. Follow the above tips to keep your fireplace safe all season long.