Cold weather can send you running for a warm fire in your home. It can be dangerous, however, to run headlong into lighting a fire without proper preparation. Before you spark up your fireplace, go through the checklist below, to ensure the safety of your household.
To-Do List for the Chimney
Whether you burn logs or gas, it can be dangerous to light a fireplace until certain things have been done or checked on.
- Experts recommend that fireplaces and wood stoves be inspected annually. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an annual chimney cleaning is an important step in safety at the beginning of the new fall or winter season. Professional chimney technicians will remove soot and debris, which will help prevent a chimney fire.
- Professionals will also check the condition of your flue lining. Even a small crack in the flue can cause a raging, out-of-control house fire. The purpose of an inspection and cleaning is to make sure your chimney and fireplace are safe and ready to use.
- Chimney structures are out of sight, but they should not be out of mind. When mortar is damaged or when bricks are loose or cracked, there is a good chance moisture has entered your chimney system. Moisture damage should be repaired as quickly as possible, to minimize the amount of damage done.
- If there is not already a cap on your chimney, have one installed as soon as possible. Chimney toppers serve several important functions, particularly when they have wire mesh. Chimney caps keep moisture out, keep critters out, and help to prevent fires, when they have a mesh spark guard that will extinguish embers that would otherwise fly from the chimney.
To-Do List for the fireplace
- Have your firewood stored, dried, and ready to burn. The type of firewood you burn determines the quality of fires, how much flammable creosote is deposited in the chimney, and whether or not a smoking fire remains when the logs have burned. Seasoned hardwoods burn longer than softwoods. If you don’t want a lingering fire, softwoods are the better choices because they don’t leave smoldering wood coals behind.
- Place the logs on a metal grate at the back of the fireplace. Do not use flammable liquids to start a fire! Use dry kindling to get the blaze going.
- Don’t fill the fireplace with logs and create a too-hot fire because it can cause a chimney fire or cause damage to the flue.
- Close the spark guard or glass doors in front of your fireplace, to prevent embers from shooting into the room and catching something combustible on fire.
- If you have a gas-fueled fireplace, have it inspected by a qualified technician prior to use. If there is a blower on the appliance, it should be cleaned because there is no filtering system to prevent dust from clogging it.
Once your checklist is done, you’re all set to safely enjoy your fireplace on a cold, wintry day.