House fires can begin in fireplaces and chimneys if you’re not careful. Keep your fireplace safe by following these steps this winter.
Have the Chimney Swept
Bring in a professional chimney sweep so this process is done correctly. It’s a good idea to have your chimney cleaned once every year. While you have a chimney sweep in your home, mention if you’ve noticed anything unusual with your fireplace, including drafts or odd smells.
Inspect for Damage
Look for any of the following issues in the firebox and chimney:
- Loose bricks
- Missing or deteriorating mortar
- Water damage
Keep Your Fireplace Safe With the Fireplace Door
Check the condition of:
- The door’s gasket sealing
- The ash dump
- The door itself
Inspect the Blower
Some gas fireplaces have a blower. Over time, the blower can get dirty and clogged with debris. Since most blowers don’t come with a filter, it’s important to inspect and clean the blower manually. Wipe the fan blades free of dust and clear away any material clogging the fan shaft.
Check Out the Damper
The damper’s job is to regulate the chimney’s airflow. Make sure that it easily opens and closes to keep your fireplace safe.
Keep Your Fireplace Safe with a Chimney Cap
You don’t want any squirrels, birds, leaves, or debris getting into the chimney. Cap your chimney to prevent this from happening. If the cap is damaged, then get it repaired or replaced.
Are All Alarms Working Properly?
It’s important to make sure your alarms are functioning properly. Check the batteries and replace them as needed. You should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors placed appropriately throughout your home.
Keep Your Fireplace Safe with the Right Firewood
Use seasoned hardwoods in the fireplace. Your wood should be split and stored properly in a dry place for six months or longer. Don’t use softwood or newly cut green wood because they’ll produce creosote when burned. Creosote is flammable and builds up inside the chimney.
If you cut your own firewood, make sure you are correctly preparing it. Split the wood so that it will fit properly into your fireplace, with each piece less than six inches in diameter. When stacking firewood, keep the split-side down and keep it raised off the ground. Cover your woodpile so it isn’t exposed to snow or rain.
Other important ways to keep your fireplace safe:
- Don’t overwork your chimney by overloading the fireplace with wood.
- Place logs at the rear of the firebox and use kindling, not flammable liquids.
- Use a spark guard.
- Keep anything flammable away from the fireplace.