Keep Your Fireplace Safe With Our Fireplace Safety Tips
Winter is here, which means that if you have a fireplace, you’re probably using it quite a bit. It’s important that you follow all the necessary precautions to keep your fireplace safe when doing so. Your fireplace should be a source of comfort and warmth; you don’t want things to get out of hand. It’s a good idea to install a photoelectric smoke detector close to your fireplace to increase fireplace safety. You may also want to install an ionization model which is better at detecting large fires. It’s also a smart move to put a CO detector near your fireplace, not just by the rooms you sleep in. Glass fireplace doors tend to have vents that can let carbon monoxide re-enter the room if there is negative pressure in your home.
Check Out Your Fireplace With a Flashlight
If you are using your fireplace, it’s important to know of any potential hazardous buildup inside. Look up into and around your fireplace, using a flashlight to light your way. You should call a chimney professional for help if you find cracks or gaps of any kind or a buildup of soot. If you see black stuff inside, that’s called creosote and it’s highly flammable. You won’t want to try cleaning it out by yourself, however, so call in the pros.
Check the Damper for Fireplace Safety
It should be easy to open and close your damper. If there’s resistance or a blockage, it’s possible that some sort of animal or bird is nesting there. Be sure to bang on the damper before opening if you suspect this is the case, otherwise you could end up with an unwanted surprise guest in your living room. Have your chimney cleaned professionally if there are any signs that wildlife has taken up residence there.
Make Certain that the Chimney Professional You Hire is Certified
If you need to go the route of hiring a pro to ensure your fireplace safety, look for someone with respectable credentials, such as certification from the Chimney Safety Institute of America. A certified chimney sweep should carry a top-of-the-line camera fitted with LED lighting that will allow him or her to get a good view of what’s going on inside of your chimney, including places you wouldn’t be able to view without this equipment.
Start Out Small
Before you start up a major blaze, build a smaller fire with just a few logs made of seasoned hardwood. This will ensure that the first fire you build burns safely. Start by opening the damper and letting the flue warm up. You don’t want to start a fire while there’s still cold air in your chimney since the downdraft could draw smoke into your house. Before starting your fire, light a rolled-up newspaper in the fireplace’s opening until the air starts to rise.
Make Sure the Mantel Doesn’t Get Too Hot
This step to keep your fireplace safe is of particular importance if you’ve got a flat-screen TV mounted above your fireplace. After your fire has begun to roar, put a candle on the mantel. If the candle starts to melt, then you’ll want to find another place to put anything that could be damaged by heat, like your electronics. If the mantel or the walls grow too hot to touch or if smoke is present anywhere inside your house, including in your attic, then contact a chimney professional as soon as you can.
For more tips to keep your fireplace safe check out this article from HGTV.
American Home Inspection Services serves Oakland, Wayne, and Livingston counties in Southeast Michigan with home inspections and related services. Give us a call today at (248) 459-7007 or request your appointment online.