As the winter approaches, you might be looking forward to enjoying cozy nights by the fire with your family. However, before you start using your fireplace, prepare it to use it safely. Here are some guidelines to help prepare your fireplace for use.
1. Clean the Chimney to Prepare Your Fireplace
Before using your fireplace, it is important to inspect the condition of the flue (the passage that smoke travels through). Debris such as bird nests, leaves, and twigs usually collect in the flue over spring and summer. Any obstruction is dangerous as it might cause smoke to fill your home or, even worse, lead to a chimney fire. Look into the passage to see if soot and creosote (residue that forms from slow-burning wood) have built up on the walls.
When it comes to cleaning your chimney, the best option is to hire a professional and certified chimney sweeper. Let the technician know about any abnormalities you may have noticed, such as a new draft or an unfamiliar smell. Schedule a chimney sweep at least once a year to get rid of debris and harmful soot.
2. Inspect the Alarms
All homes should already have smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in place. Test the alarms on your detectors to verify that they are still functional. Additionally, replace the batteries to be on the safe side. Place the devices about 10 feet away from the fireplace to avoid false alarms.
3. Prepare Your Fireplace by Checking for Cracks
Another way to prepare your fireplace is to check for any deterioration, cracks, missing mortar, loose bricks, or other damage to the chimney structure. You should also check for any water damage, as this can be detrimental to your entire home.
4. Prepare Your Fireplace by Cleaning the Firebox
You may find that you left charred chunks of wood and ashes inside the firebox the last time you used your fireplace. Now that the temperatures have started dropping, clean out all the ashes to prepare your fireplace for use. This will make it easier for you to light a fire and reduce the amount of dust that stirs up when placing new logs. A clean firebox also makes your fireplace safer to use.
5. Install a Spark Guard
Make sure your fireplace has a spark guard, like a glass door or screen, to prevent sparks from getting out. Purchase a fire-resistant hearth mat to protect your floor as you prepare your fireplace for use.
6. Check the Damper and Chimney Cap
To prepare your fireplace for use, check that your damper works correctly to prevent smoke and carbon monoxide from filling your home. If your chimney cap is damaged or was not there in the first place, either repair it or install a new one before using your fireplace. The cap on your chimney prevents leaves, twigs, and other debris from falling into your firebox through the chimney.
Whether you are using a gas or wood-burning fireplace, it is important to seek the help of a certified technician for fireplace inspections. Prepare your fireplace in the safest way possible to keep your family and loved ones safe and comfortable all season long.