Your fireplace offers up amazing ambience and plenty of heat, and even the US Department of Energy touts the benefits of heating homes with wood. Unless you have studied up on your chimney safety guidelines, fireplaces can be hazardous, and even a small oversight could result in devastating fires or other events. Below are five expert tips that you should always keep in mind when it comes to using your fireplace at home or in the office.
#1 – Routine Cleaning & Inspection is Required
Any time you use your fireplace, soot and creosote build up on the inside of the chimney. Over time, this buildup can harden and become increasingly flammable. What’s more, things like severe weather and even small to moderate earthquakes can cause unseen damage to your chimney. To protect yourself, your family, and your home or office, it’s vital that you hire a CSIA-certified chimney company to clean and inspect your chimney at least once a year or every 36 fires – whichever comes first.
#2 – Keep Your Eyes on the Fire, Your Children, and Your Pets
All it takes is one ember to cause a disaster, but the sooner you catch smoldering ash, the less likely it is to do serious damage. Along those same lines, kids and pets are often curious about fireplaces, and if they get too close, they could be burned. The best way to prevent such events and injuries is to avoid leaving fires unattended, especially with kids and pets nearby. Better yet, install protections, like gates, to keep them safe and move anything flammable several feet away from your fireplace.
#3 – Have the Right Fire Safety Tools
Before lighting your first fire of the season, be sure that you have all the tools you need to properly build, tend to, and put out a fire. Of these, the latter tools are the most important because they can save lives in the event of a chimney fire. You should have centrally-located smoke detectors in each hallway on every floor of your home, and you should check the batteries at least once every six months to keep them in good working order. You should also invest in a fire extinguisher for each floor of your home and keep it in an easy-to-reach location.
#4 – Check Your Dampers Often
The damper is the movable door inside the chimney that opens and closes to control the flow of smoke and air. When you light a fire, the damper must be open in order to allow smoke to escape. When the fire is out, the damper should be closed to prevent cold air from entering your home through the chimney. Check your damper now and then to make sure it opens and closes completely. A damper that does not open all the way could result in a home filled with toxic smoke or even carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.
#5 – Hire Only Qualified Professionals
Though many people claim to have the knowledge and expertise required to properly clean and inspect your chimney, the US Department of Energy recommends looking for companies that employ chimney technicians certified by the CSIA. These individuals have undergone thorough training, and they have proven their knowledge and ability by taking a rigorous test. To maintain this certification, they must stay in-the-know with the latest fire and chimney safety data, which means you can rest comfortably in the knowledge that the company you hire can keep you and your family safe.
The five tips here are vital for ensuring your safety. Not only can they prevent potentially dangerous chimney fires that can spread to the structure of your home, but they can also prevent smoke damage and even carbon monoxide poisoning. There’s no better way to enjoy a warm, crackling fire than with some peace of mind.