Fireplace Maintenance: Things You Should Do This Winter
Getting warm by a fireplace in your home can be sublime and one of the best parts of winter. It’s always important, however, to remember that safety should come first, when burning fuel, such as logs or gas. The leading reasons fireplaces cause house fires are lack of maintenance and leaving a fire unattended. The following are some tips for fireplace maintenance in winter that can help ensure safety and maximum enjoyment of crackling fires.
Inspection and Cleaning
It can be tough to tell just what’s going on in your chimney, unless you hire a professional chimney technician to inspect it. If, for example, there is a hidden breach in your chimney flue, your home becomes susceptible to an intensely hot house fire that doesn’t provide a family with much warning to get to safety. If there’s too much creosote in the flue, there is an increased chance of a hazardous chimney fire. There are other potential issues that are common, such as deteriorating mortar and masonry. Before you get that first fire started in your fireplace, have it inspected and cleaned.
Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
No matter what type of fireplace you have, it’s of utmost importance that you have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home and ensure that they are in good working order, before lighting the first fire in winter. Anytime you burn solid fuel, there is the possibility that toxic carbon monoxide could leak into your home. Known as the “Silent Killer,” carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and deadly. People often have no clue they are being overcome by the toxic fumes until it’s too late to get themselves to safety.
What to Burn
Homeowners often mistakenly think it’s okay to use the fireplace for disposing of wood products, but it can be very dangerous to burn other substances besides seasoned firewood. If you burn a magazine, for example, the colored paper releases dangerous toxic fumes. Treated wood is dangerous because of chemicals that create dangerous emissions. Fireplaces aren’t built to burn paper products or treated wood. They are meant for dry logs. When you use green firewood, excess smoke is produced that can pollute the air in your home and sends pollution outside, as well. That’s because there’s too much moisture in the firewood, and the energy of the fire goes first to burn it out. Burning unseasoned firewood also causes a lot more messy, tar-like flammable creosote to clog up your flue.
Proper Ash Removal
Maintenance of a fireplace in winter is not complete without regular ash removal. Having a small amount of ash can help start fires more quickly and help to amplify heat, but too much of it is not a good thing. A buildup of ash can draw needed moisture from the air, rust metal, and damage the stone in your fireplace. It is essential to use recommended safety practices for handling ashes because mishandling can easily lead to a dangerous house fire.
You can relax and enjoy the idyllic setting that only a fireplace can provide in your home, once you’ve tended to essentials in fireplace maintenance.