It’s that time again. The chill returns to the air, and you pull out your flannel blankets to settle in front of the fireplace with a nice cup of cocoa. Before you get too cozy, it is important to make sure your fireplace is safe and ready for the long winter months. Valley Home has compiled a quick list of do’s and don’ts to warm up your brisk evenings… with caution.
- First and foremost, have your fireplace and chimney inspected by a professional company each year before starting your first fire. Debris such as ash, mortar, and leaves create a fire hazard if not properly cleaned. Having a chimney cap installed prevents objects from entering the chimney and reduces downdrafts. Gas fireplaces should also be checked over by a professional to ensure proper working order.
- Install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home and be sure that they are in working order with fresh batteries.
- Keep items such as blankets, books, and anything else flammable at least two feet away from your fire at all times.
- Position a screen in front of the fireplace at all times to deter sparks from leaving the fireplace, but keep glass doors open to allow heat to circulate throughout the room.
- Clean out ash from previous fires each time and keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
- Use any kind of fuel such as gasoline or charcoal lighter to ignite or reignite your flame, and keep such products far away from the fireplace.
- Forget to open the damper before starting the fire. Leave it open until the ashes have cooled completely. Opening the damper allows harmful gasses and smoke to escape through the chimney.
- Burn anything other than untreated wood or products designed for indoor fire use. Hardwoods burn the longest and should ideally be dried for eight to twelve months before burning. Items such as crates, lumber, or painted wood releases harmful chemicals into your home and should never be used.
- Leave your fire unattended. As beautiful and warming as they are, house fires can also be dangerous, so never leave the room for extended periods of time with a fire burning. Last, but not least, keep your fire at a safe and manageable size.