As the climate gets colder, be sure it’s up for the responsibility of keeping your family warm and toasty, without compromising on safety. Our list below will help you keep track of proper maintenance and make sure your fireplace is ready for general use this wintertime. It’s necessary to make sure that both your fireplace and chimney are safe during the season. So before you light your first fire, follow certain steps to make sure it’s in great working order.
1. Check The Firebox
Look for any gaps, cracks, or signs of wear and tear in the filling of the firebox (the interior of the fireplace). If the filling has deteriorated to the point that the steel body under it is apparent, you’ll need to have it professionally repaired. If not done properly, extreme heat can build up inside your fireplace and will cause constant damage.
2. Be Sure Your Furnace (Grate) Is The Right Size
When it comes to your fireplace, bigger isn’t necessarily better. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a metal furnace used to hold burning woodpile should be no more than two-thirds the size of your fireplace opening.
A big grate may entice you to pile on too much wood, and the resulting flames can dangerously heat your fireplace. If your grate is too big, replace it with a shorter one that’s more suitable for your requirements.
3. Examine Your Chimney
Just because no one is willing to climb up on the roof to peer into the chimney doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Checking your chimney is one of the most significant steps you have to take before using your fireplace.
4. Watch For Significant Smoke Stains
Smoke stains can be another signal that your fireplace isn’t working properly. If you see stains on the ceiling, smoke could be emerging from a gap between the hearth and the firebox. This is most likely because the hearth has settled — not an unusual occurrence in an older home. When this settling occurs, sparks that fall into the gap can send up smoke, essentially acting as a secondary chimney. You’ll need a mason, skilled handyman, or fireplace professional to fix this.
5. Check Your Fire Extinguisher
It’s necessary to know where your fire extinguisher is and make sure it’s fully charged and also ready to use (the CSIA recommends a 5-pound model with a flexible hose).
Finally, make sure you’ve stocked up on enough seasoned firewood to enjoy your new fireplace whenever the mood strikes.