I don’t know about you, but fall always makes me think about my fireplace. I use it a lot during the winter to heat my house, as I’m sure many of you do, too. But as much as I like the efficiency of a fireplace, I also know it can be a dangerous thing if not cared for properly.
Statistics show that fireplaces cause more than 68,000 house fires annually. Without proper maintenance and cleaning, newspaper kindling can quickly turn into a disaster by causing thick, black smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) to backdraft into your home, endangering the lives of you and your loved ones. While your fireplace may be the perfect way to keep your family warm and cozy in the winter, ensure your family’s safety first by following these tips to prevent your fireplace from becoming hazardous to your home:
- Have your fireplace cleaned by a professional chimney sweep service. It’s important to have your fireplace and chimney swept at least once a year. You should also visually inspect your fireplace and chimney every few weeks to check for obstructions.
- Keep critters out. Birds and other animals like to live in warm places, and your chimney is one of the first places they’ll try to call home. To prevent your chimney from becoming a critter motel, install a chimney cap to provide a barrier that will keep both animals and debris from getting in. Chimney caps range from functional wire mesh to more elaborate, decorative brass and bronze models, so you can dress your chimney up or down according to your tastes.
- Get to know your flue. When lighting a fire, always make sure the flue is open first, and then make sure to close it tightly after the fire has gone out. Knowing how to properly use your flue will not only minimize health and safety risks, it may also lower your home energy costs, too. To test the air-tightness of your flue, close it all the way when your fireplace is not in use and then stick your hand inside to check for drafts. If you can feel cool air coming through, it may be time to repair or replace your flue.
- Keep the glass door of your gas fireplace or woodstove clean. Residue can become caked onto glass doors, so make sure to clean the glass doors of your fireplace or woodstove regularly. There are cleaning product made especially for cleaning glass fireplace doors, or you can make your own cleaning solution from vinegar and water. Saturate the glass with cleaner, and then use a damp rag to wipe the residue away. If you’re having trouble removing residue from the door, you can use a razor blade to scrap off any tough-to-clean gunk.
Fireplace and chimney fires can be easily prevented if you follow these simple tips. If you need additional help, please stop by and talk to our fireplace and chimney experts at HomCo Ace Hardware. We’ve been helping people keep their homes safe from fireplace and chimney fires for more than 12 years. The key is to start thinking about cleaning and maintenance long before you throw that first log on the fire. FBN