There is a reason the National Fire Prevention Week is the first week of October. Fireplaces will soon be lit and other methods of keeping you nice and cozy could possibly ignite an unwanted fire. Think ahead and prepare your fireplace to be used at any moment once October begins.
Although most fireplace inspections and cleaning can be done by the average homeowner, it is always best to hire a chimney sweep to sweep your chimney each year before winter. They will remove the soot, debris and creosote (unburned fuel) that could be the starting point of a deadly fire.
- Look for Damage around the exterior of your chimney. A good chimney sweep will do this, but it is best if you take a look around yourself to see if you notice any changes from last year and let your chimney sweeper know. Look for cracks, mortar that’s missing or bricks that are loose. If the brick lining has badly deteriorated so much that steel is exposed, it could cause permanent damage.
- If you have a cap on your chimney, look for damages such as broken wire mesh or large gaps. If you do not have a cap, it is highly recommended that you add one.
- If your fireplace has a blower, it needs to be manually cleaned since they typically do not have a filter.
- Check for gaskets that seal the doors and ash dump. If not airtight, it can damage the appliance.
In addition to looking for damage and cleaning your fireplace, here are some fire burning tips:
- Avoid burning green wood and softwoods that create more creosote. This flammable substance can build up more quickly in your chimney if not using seasoned hardwood that has been stored in an elevated and dry spot for six months or more.
- Although colored glossy paper may create a pretty flame it also contains chemicals that will be released into the air.
- As much as you may like building a large fire, it is best to keep it small to reduce smoke that causes creosote to build up. Extreme heat from a large fire can also crack your chimney structure.
- Cover your fireplace with a sturdy glass or metal fire screen to catch sparks and contain roll-away logs.
OTHER HEAT SOURCES: For a gas-burning fireplace, it is best to have a qualified technician service your appliance. If using a space heater for some additional heat, never leave them running unattended, keep three feet or more away from anything flammable and look for the independent testing laboratory mark on your heater.
Last, but not least, replace the batteries and test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These alarms are the best tool for saving your life and should not be over looked.
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