Are you looking forward to a cozy fire in the fireplace when winter comes? If so, you’ll want to make sure your fireplace is ready to meet your expectations. Here are some things you can do to ensure your fireplace is safe and efficient this winter.
Clean the Chimney
It’s important to have the chimney cleaned twice a year. Doing so prevents chimney fires, smoke damage, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The chimney sweep should also check the flue to ensure it’s in good working order. You need to be able to open it easily to let the smoke out. It should also close properly to keep warm air in the home after the fire has been put out.
Check your chimney before you start your first winter fire, even if you have your chimney cleaned periodically. You want to make sure there are no animal nests or other blockages that would prevent smoke from escaping your home. Alternatively, invest in a chimney cap so debris and/or small creatures have no way of getting into your chimney in the first place.
Buy the Right Wood
Experts warn that it’s a bad idea to burn anything besides firewood. Old wood chips with paint, broken wood crates, colorful cardboard boxes, and other items often contain harmful chemicals that can lower air quality in your home. Some plain, white paper may be suitable for use as kindling, but don’t use your fire to dispose of other forms of trash and debris.
The best logs are the ones that have been split, stacked, and dried for at least eight months. If the wood gets wet en route to your home, allow it to completely dry out before you use it. Dry wood not only burns evenly but also prevents smoke build-up in the house and chimney.
Use hardwood logs if you want a fire that burns on its own for a long time. If your firewood isn’t dense, be prepared to add new logs to your fire periodically to keep your fire burning.
Invest in Accessories to Maximize Home Safety
A metal grate for your fireplace is a must if you have kids in the home. Put the grate in front of the fireplace every single time you light a fire and teach your children to stay far away from it.
A fireproof mat may be in order if you have a flammable floor or rug. These mats put out stray sparks that may escape your fireplace, preventing damage and home fires.
Carbon monoxide detectors will prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Change the batteries once a year and test the detectors before you start a fire to make sure they’re working properly.
Take Action to Keep Your Fireplace Safe
A wood-burning fireplace isn’t a replacement for central heating in the home. A fire should not be allowed to burn longer than five hours, and you should always put out the fire when you go to bed. If there are children or pets in the home, put out the fire if you need to leave the room.
Crack the window a couple of inches while you have the fire going. Doing so keeps air circulating in the home and reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Invest in fireplace tools. Never touch hot logs or ashes with your bare hands.
Teach children in your home to steer clear of the fireplace, even if you don’t have a fire going. Pets should likewise be taught to stay away from the fireplace. Avoid playing with any pet near the fireplace as doing so could lead to an accident.
Maintain the Warmth
Close the chimney cap and/or flue a few minutes after you put out your fire. This prevents the loss of hot air through the chimney. Make sure your home is properly insulated so the heat from the fireplace remains inside the house.
There’s nothing quite like a fireplace to give your home a cozy ambiance during the cold winter months. However, home fires can also cause accidents and health hazards if you don’t take proper safety precautions. Regular chimney maintenance, implementing safety guidelines, investing in the right equipment, and supervising children and pets in the room will lower the risk of accidents so you and your family can enjoy your fireplace for years to come.