Winter Fireplace Safety Tips
The weather is getting cooler and the Christmas decorations are out. There’s no doubt that firewood will be chopped for lighting up the fireplace this season. The most important thing is to have a professional chimney inspection and cleaning before that first fire. Chestnut roasting shouldn’t be the only thing on our minds. Safety is always a priority for responsible fireplace owners. The winter chimney care tips below will ensure that your fireplace is a thing of beauty and not a hazard.
Use Quality Firewood
You may get a lot of cheap firewood for your buck but you will pay for it in other ways. For example, woods like Pine leave a lot of residue called creosote in your chimney. This can clog up your chimney, allowing foul-smelling smoke to fill your home. A wood like Oak is dense, burns clean and will also burn longer. This is essential for the air quality in your home and the life of your fireplace. Clear away built-up creosote with a professional chimney cleaning.
Leave your Damper Open
A closed damper will keep smoke and harmful gases inside your home instead of allowing them to escape properly. An open damper is essential for airflow. It will also encourage outside air to come in and keep the fire going as long as you want it to but be sure and close the damper once your fire has gone cold and the embers are completely dead. You know this is the case when all that remains in the fireplace is ash and there are no glowing embers present.
Dispose of Ashes Properly
Many fires occur because of ashes being dumped in dangerous ways. The safest way to get rid of ashes is to make sure they are properly cooled and then placed in a fireproof container with a lid. The best practice is to keep this container away from anything flammable including wood or linen and at a distance of at least 10 feet from your home or other buildings.
Mind your Fire
Never leave a fire unattended. It may seem that fire escaping from the firebox is unlikely, however, it is completely possible for things next to a fireplace to overheat and catch on fire. Remember, It only takes one ember to start an uncontrollable fire, before turning in for the night or leaving the house, make sure the fire is COMPLETELY out and the damper is closed to prevent outside air from coming in and rekindling the fire.
Be Prepared with The Right Safety Equipment.
If you own a fireplace there are 3 pieces of safety equipment that are a must.
- Fire Extinguisher – ideally every home should have a fire extinguisher that is effective against all kinds of fires; including wood, paper, burning liquids, and electrical fires. Fire extinguishers today are easy to use and some are available for under $50
- Carbon Monoxide Detector – many people forget that carbon monoxide can be a danger with fireplaces. Carbon Monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that can cause serious illness and even death when inhaled.
- Smoke Alarm – This goes without saying but smoke alarms are imperative. They can alert you to dangers while you sleep or if you have stepped out of the room for longer than expected. If you do not have a smoke alarm, get one and if you do have them, be sure and test them as often as every month.
Don’t let the warm glow of a fire lull you to sleep without taking the necessary precautions that will ensure your family’s safety. Our chimney sweeps are CSIA certified and ready to assist you with any issues you may have.