Fireplace Safety, Operation, & Maintenance
When the temperatures take a serious dip in winter, getting warm next to a fireplace can be pure delight. The enjoyment of a fireplace can quickly turn sour, however, if someone gets hurt or the fireplace doesn’t operate properly. The following are some great fireplace safety, operation, and maintenance tips:
Steps for Lighting a Fire:
- Place kindling, newspaper, and logs on the fireplace grate.
- Open the damper.
- Open a window a few inches, to further help with the draft.
- Light a match and quickly blow it out, watching to see if the smoke goes up the chimney as it is supposed to. If it goes up the chimney, the fireplace is ready to light. If it doesn’t go up the chimney, the chimney may have an obstruction or could be filled with a column of cold air. Contact a professional chimney sweep about an obstruction. If the issue is cold air, carefully make a torch with rolled up newspaper, light it, and hold it up to the chimney.
Proper or Optimal Use:
- If there are glass doors on your fireplace, keep them open when you are burning firewood, so that the draft which pulls combustion gases up the chimney is strong.
- When you clean out ashes from the firebox, leave at least one inch of ash, which acts as insulation. The ash will allow coals to heat more quickly and will also allow them to retain heat longer.
- Place a rug that is nonflammable in front of the fireplace so that if sparks escape, they won’t do any damage to your floor or carpeting.
- Always use fireplace tools, not your hands, for handling burning logs.
- Do not use a fireplace as a furnace. A fireplace should be used for no more than five hours at a time.
- Use a screen in front of the fire to prevent possible sparks from causing a house fire.
- Do not allow children to play with or near fireplace tools and equipment.
- Do not leave a fire unattended when there are children in the house.
- Handle ashes with extreme care. Coals in the fireplace can last for up to three days. Once ashes are cool, use a shovel to place them in a container such as a steel bucket with a lid. Do not place the bucket on a combustible surface. When shoveling the ashes, be sure the damper is open, so that airborne ash will go up the chimney instead of inside your home.
Have a chimney cap installed at the top of your chimney. The cap provides several benefits, including: it prevents water from entering the chimney when it rains, causing costly water damage; a chimney cap with mesh will prevent animals from getting into your chimney and nesting or getting stuck and dying; a chimney cap can prevent other types of blockage, all of which can cause deadly carbon monoxide to enter the home; a spark arrester can help prevent hot embers and sparks from escaping onto the roof or other combustible materials.
Contact our professional chimney sweeps for an annual chimney inspection and cleaning and for any questions you have about the safe use of your fireplace and chimney.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110