Using the fireplace is an easy way to save on utilities in cooler weather, but it is necessary to make sure the fireplace and chimney are adequately maintained. Yearly cleaning and upkeep are essential for safety. Here are a few tips to help prevent chimney fires.
Keep Your Chimney Clean to Prevent Chimney Fires
With time your chimney may become clogged with creosote build-up. Creosote forms a byproduct of smoke when it condenses on the chimney walls. This material is highly flammable and can increase the risk of chimney fires. Having the chimney cleaned yearly will remove creosote and improve ventilation.
Never use accelerants, such as lighter fluid, gas, or other chemicals, to light a fire. These products create large flames that can rapidly get out of control. Avoid burning cardboard or papers like magazines and newspapers. The chemicals used in these materials create toxic smoke that irritates your eyes and airways. Only burn seasoned hardwood in your fireplace.
Use a Chimney Liner to Prevent Chimney Fires
Chimney liners protect chimneys from excessive heat and improve ventilation, helping to prevent fires. Stainless steel liners are the most recommended type because they can endure high temperatures. They also prevent sparks from reaching other home areas and reduce the amount of smoke that drafts into your living spaces.
Schedule Annual Inspections
Just as it’s necessary to clean the chimney annually, it will also need to be inspected. A chimney inspector will check for issues such as creosote build-up, cracks, damage, or flue blockage.
Have your chimney inspected if you’ve just moved into a new home, are having issues with the fireplace, or if there have been any recent incidents that damaged your chimney, such as severe weather.
Install a Chimney Cap
Chimney caps prevent backdrafts and protect the chimney from pests, leaves, and rain that can cause corrosion. Debris trapped in the chimney may be combustible and increase the fire risk.
Have a chimney cap installed by a professional and check that it is not missing or damaged before lighting the first fire of the season.
Regular maintenance and fire safety will reduce the chance of a chimney fire in your home. Be sure the chimney is clean and in working order by scheduling an annual inspection. When enjoying a fire, keep the flames contained within the firebox, teach children to stay a safe distance away, and have a fire extinguisher nearby.