Tips on How to Prepare your Fireplace for the Season
Temperatures are rapidly cooling here on the east coast. It’s the perfect time re-ignite the pilot in your gas fireplace or haul in your first load of logs this season for your wood burning fireplace. Before you relax beside the hearth with a cup of hot cider or cocoa, take the time to prepare your fireplace for this burning season.
Unlike skipping spring cleaning, skipping an annual fireplace cleaning and maintenance could cost you your home or even your life. Every year, thousands of residents lose their homes to house fires and hundreds are hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning because of unsafe fireplace conditions. Investing the time to prepare your fireplace for another fall and winter is worth it.
Before you use your fireplace this season, follow these 3 simple fireplace safety steps:
Step 1: Have the Fireplace & Chimney Professionally Inspected & Cleaned
Whether you have a gas fireplace or wood burning fireplace, booking a professional inspection and cleaning is the best way to protect your home.
A leaking gas line or faulty component can easily cause an explosive house fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Unless you are a certified technician, you mostly likely won’t notice these problems until it is too late.
For homeowners with a wood burning fireplace, creosote buildup is the greatest risk. It is the leading cause of house fires in homes with traditional fireplaces. Creosote is a highly flammable chemical compound that builds up inside chimneys. It’s produced when wood doesn’t burn completely during the combustion process. While burning seasoned, hardwood reduces the buildup of creosote it doesn’t eliminate it. Even a small amount of it can ignite causing a chimney fire. Chimney fires fueled by creosote can burn at extremely high temperatures; doing serious damage to the chimney or spreading to the rest of your home.
Tackling creosote removal as a DIY project isn’t a good idea. It is difficult to remove without professional grade equipment and chemicals. You could also damage your chimney in the process if you don’t have any training or experience cleaning chimneys professionally.
A CSIA-certified technician will also inspect the chimney for other issues that may pose a risk like damaged chimney components (like a warped damper or damaged flue liner) and water intrusion during the cleaning. Catching a problem early and resolving it right away can save you from thousands of dollars in future repair costs.
Step 2: Check Your Fire Detector & Carbon Monoxide Detector
A fire detector and carbon monoxide detector are essential safety tools if you have a fireplace. Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because it is tasteless, odorless and colorless. Without a carbon monoxide detector, you will have no warning if it is leaking into your home. You could suffer serious health issues or die before becoming aware of it. A fire detector is the best way to be alerted if a chimney fire gets out of control or a stray spark ignites a piece of furniture or household item when you aren’t looking.
A fire extinguisher is also a smart investment. If you have one, you should be sure to have it recharged regularly (it should have tag on it that says when it was last charged and when it should be recharged).
Step 3: Make Sure You Have a Fireplace Screen
A fireplace screen is important because it catches hot sparks and embers that fly out of the fire. Without it, they could ignite nearby curtains, furniture, flooring or other household items. It also prevents you and your loved ones from being burned.
Having glass doors installed on your fireplace is another way to prevent burns and fires from hot embers. If you have children or pets, it is smart to have glass doors on the fireplace and a fireplace screen so that there are two layers between your little loved ones and the hot temperatures of the fire. Touching hot glass doors or a hot fireplace screen that is close to the fireplace can burn little ones.
If you need a new fireplace screen or would like to have fireplace doors installed, stop by our Stove and Fireplace Center right off scenic Route 7 halfway between Danbury and Norwalk! We have a wide selection to choose from. You can also pick up any other fireplace accessories you need or get a recommendation for a professional technician to clean and inspect your fireplace.