If you’ve just moved into a house with a fireplace and you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Before you light your first fire, it’s essential to thoroughly understand fireplace and chimney safety. Following a few simple guidelines can help keep your home and family safe and warm this winter.
Even if the previous owners had a fireplace inspection as part of the sale process, it’s important for you to hire a company of your own, that works on your behalf, to inspect thoroughly again. Inspections can catch serious and potentially dangerous issues that may lead to fires and carbon monoxide buildup, so if you are dealing with your first fireplace, this should be at the top of your list. In most cases, if the fireplace and chimney need to be cleaned, you can have this done at the time of your inspection.
Fireplace operation is relatively simple, but if you’ve never used one before, you should take the time to brush up before jumping in. Start with dry seasoned wood that is specifically for woodstoves and fireplaces – never use green or unseasoned wood. Make sure the damper position is properly set to “open” to allow smoke and combustion gases to escape, and when your fireplace is no longer in use, and the fire is completely out, close the damper. The use of fire safe doors on your fireplace can also prevent drafts.
Frequent cleanings are important for preventing the buildup of a flammable substance called creosote. Many homeowners schedule an annual cleaning. However, if you plan to use your fireplace often, you may need more frequent sweeps. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends cleaning your chimney once every 36 fires, and in the Chicagoland area, you may light quite a few when the coldest months hit! Keep track and be sure that you’re cleaning your chimney frequently enough to keep you safe.
Once you’ve had a professional inspection and cleaning, and learned how to safely use your fireplace, regular spot checks and upkeep are important. Take the time to look around every now and again to catch any potential or emerging problems. Check to make sure soot and creosote buildup is never more than a quarter-inch thick, check your damper to be sure it operates properly, and if it is safe to do so yourself, inspect the part of your chimney that rises from the roof for things like a loose cap or cracked masonry. Check the area around the chimney inside your home, too, for signs of water damage, which may indicate faulty flashing.
Caring for your new fireplace and chimney doesn’t have to be difficult, but in order to ensure your home and family’s safety, it must be done right, and often. Lindemann Chimney & Fireplace | Heating & Cooling Professional Chimney Sweep team is the best in the Chicagoland area – and our services include the most thorough level 2 NFPA Inspection – providing complete and thorough care that you and your fireplace deserve.