The winter season is the prime time for fireplace usage. Who doesn’t want to come home after a long day and warm up by the fire? While you might spend a lot of time using the fireplace, it’s important to also spend time learning about the dangers of chimney and fireplace fires, and how to prevent them. We’ve made a list of a few things you can do to keep your fireplace safe and prevent a disastrous fire.
Annual Chimney Inspection:
Make a tradition of hiring a professional chimney sweep to come out and inspect your chimney and fireplace each winter! Problems like cracked flue liner, and other things are not usually problems we can normally detect and fix ourselves. A chimney sweep will look for any damages, and sweep chimneys of any animal nests, dust, soot, etc. A chimney inspection will give you the peace of mind that a professional has cleared the chimney of anything that may be a fire hazard.
Install Chimney Cap:
A chimney cap is placed on top of the chimney to keep things such as animals, debris, and other fire hazards from falling in. A chimney cap also prevents “backpuffing,” when smoke exiting the chimney comes back in. Talk to a professional chimney sweep about what kind of cap they recommend, as caps can cost anywhere from $45-$500. A professional will also be able to ensure the cap is installed properly.
Use Clean Burning Techniques:
The ideal fire you should burn is a high temperature, fast-burning fire. This will prevent creosote from lining the walls, and doesn’t create as much smoke. The best way to start a fire is using the top-down burn method. “Place the large logs vertically at the bottom of the fireplace or wood stove (with the bottoms of the logs facing you), add four to five horizontal layers of kindling, then top with tinder and light.” Make sure to extinguish the fire properly after you’re finished by spreading out the logs and covering the fire and embers with ash from the bottom of the fireplace.
Seasoned firewood along with any CISA-approved logs are the only fuels you should be using in your fireplace. Avoid throwing things like paper and plastic items in the fire to keep it going. You should never use gasoline or any other fluids to start a fire, as they are highly flammable, combustible, and can quickly create a fire that becomes out of control.