There are many benefits to having a fireplace. In the cold winter months, they add warmth and ambiance to a room. Sitting in front of the fire is relaxing, but having a fireplace comes with some responsibilities. Without proper maintenance, a fireplace can be a risk to you and your property. Follow these steps to keep a fireplace safe.
1. Clean the Chimney to Keep a Fireplace Safe
To keep a fireplace safe, schedule a cleaning and have the chimney inspected every year. Professional chimney sweeps will remove any build up in the stack and also check the masonry and bricks.
If the stack is blocked or not working correctly, it can cause a fire or the blockage could cause carbon monoxide to enter the home. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas, so the air must flow freely through the chimney.
2. Inspect the Cap
The chimney cap prevents things from falling down into the chimney. The cap should have a mesh screen around it to keep sparks at bay. There are several configurations of caps and spark arrestors. No matter the style, it is critical that the cap is intact for the safety of the occupants and the property.
The inside of the fireplace is called the firebox. Inspect the brickwork. Cracks in the interior can reduce the amount of heat you receive inside the house and escaping heat can damage the walls.
The flooring of the box might also settle and split over time. When you clean out the ashes, remove the rack the wood is burned on, and check the bottom for signs of wear and tear. Contact a fireplace repair professional if you find damage.
4. Keep a Fireplace Safe with a Door or Screen
To protect your flooring, people, and pets from wayward sparks, your fireplace should have a door or screen. To keep a fireplace safe, make sure the front covers are sturdy and work properly.
Before lighting the first fire, tighten any handles or knobs so they are secure and confirm that the doors open and close smoothly. To clean a glass fireplace door, use a special glass cleaner for that purpose or make your own with three-parts water to one-part vinegar.
Burning the right kind of wood is another way to keep a fireplace safe. Do not burn green or rotting wood because they contain too much moisture. This excess water adds to the creosote buildup in the chimney. Burn only hardwood that has been seasoned for at least 6 months and is very dry.
To keep wood dry, store it in a shed or covered area. Do not keep it piled directly up against the house. This contact is a fire hazard and may attract wood-destroying insects. If you must store the wood by the house or garage, leave a gap of at least 12-18″ so that air can pass between the stacked wood and the home.
6. Safety Devices to Keep a Fireplace Safe
In the room with the fireplace, install a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Keep a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby. Having these additional devices is a simple way to keep a fireplace safe and your home and family protected.