It’s that time of year when building a fire on a cold day sounds like the best idea: a crackling fire in the fireplace makes everything cozier. But before you throw on another log, make sure your fireplace is in good working order. According to the experts from This Old House, fireplaces and chimneys are involved in 42 percent of all home-heating fires. So familiarize yourself now with the following fireplace safety and maintenance tips so you can relax and enjoy the season:
1. Sweep your chimney every year – Ideally you should sweep out your chimney of soot and debris every year before winter arrives. The good news is that you can hire a professional to do it for you. Check out the Chimney Safety Institute of America to find a certified chimney sweep in your area.
2. Look out for chimney damage and deterioration – If you see loose bricks, missing mortar, or cracks in your chimney structure or chimney liner, these should be fixed as quickly as possible. A chimney sweep can also help with finding areas that need to be repaired.
3. Don’t forget the chimney cap – Chimney caps are usually made from wire mesh that fit over the top of the chimney and keep out rain, birds, other small animals, and debris. If you don’t have one, get one. And if yours is damaged, replace or repair it.
4. Burn the right wood – Seasoned hardwoods that are dense, such as oak, and have been stored in a high and dry place for at least six months are the way to go. It’s not a good idea to burn green wood or resinous softwoods, such as pine, as they produce more creosote, which is a flammable by-product that builds up inside the chimney.
5. Build the fire correctly – Place the logs you’ll be burning at the rear of the fireplace and use kindling instead of flammable liquids to get it going.
6. Keep it small – A roaring, overloaded fire is more dangerous as the heat it generates can crack the chimney. It also produces more smoke, which means more creosote. So keep your fire on the smaller side.
7. Use a spark guard – Prevent stray sparks from leaping out of the fire with a spark guard. These usually come in mesh or glass, and in the form of screens or doors. And if you leave the room for awhile, it’s especially important to guard the fire.
8. Maintain the ash level – It’s actually not necessary to remove ash from the fireplace before you build a new fire, unless the ash is especially deep. Leave about one inch of ash in the firebox as it makes building the next fire easier and also protects the firebox floor. However, if the ash is so deep that it touches the grate, it can cause the grate to burn out. You can completely remove the ash at the end of the winter.
If you experience fire or smoke damage this winter, let NuBilt Construction help with your Denver fire restoration. With all of the snow and ice present in our winters, be sure to ready your home in the proper way – get an inspection to find problems before they create larger ones. Call 303-368-4688, available 24 hours a day.