I have a fireplace and I like the beauty and warm glow of the flames from a burning fire. And, like most of the items I own and use I just want it to work when I need it. That's simple, right? Well, actually I've learned that a fireplace takes more care and maintenance than most of the other systems in a home.
Starting a fire safely consists of:
- See that there are no obstructions or combustibles on or near the top of the chimney
- Open the damper inside the firebox so the smoke can flow up the flue
- Clean out ashes from the previous fires
- Use logs that fit deep into the firebox
- Use seasoned wood, never green, wet, painted, treated or made with glues.
- Place the logs deep into the firebox on a raised fireplace grate for proper air circulation
- Build a fire that is safe for the size of the firebox
- Enclose the firebox opening with a mesh screen whenever a fire is burning
- Keep combustible materials a safe distance away from the front of the firebox opening, at least 24 inches, further is better
- Do not close the damper until the fire and the embers are completely cool
Chimney/Fireplace preventative maintenance consists of:
- Have a chimney inspected and if necessary, cleaned before each cold season to ensure the chimney is safe to operate
- Have a raised screen with a rain cap installed at the top of the chimney flue
- Keep tree branches, leaves and other combustibles away from the chimney
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and have functioning smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Keep the extinguisher charged and see that all family members know how to operate it
- Burn hardwoods, they produce the least amount of sticky tars and creosote that can build up inside the flue and ignite.
- Never use gasoline, kerosene or other volatile liquids to start a fire.
- Never leave fire unattended.
- Keep wood stacked, covered, and out-of-doors, away from the house and off the ground. Bring in only as much as you need for one evening.
- Dispose of ashes in a fireproof container with a tightly fitted lid and keep it away from structures and combustibles.
Care for the fireplace and chimney properly so you and your family can enjoy the wonderfully relaxing glow and warmth of a safely burning fire in your home.