Winter Fire Safety Precautions
Here are some tips on how to stay cozy and safe this winter.
With the holidays just around the corner, you may be tempted to fire up your fireplace and get cozy in your home. Winter can be a great time to gather around the fireplace but without regular chimney maintenance your chimney could be susceptible to chimney fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, or mold buildup.
Keep Holiday Decorations Away From Your Chimney
If you’re like most people, the holidays mean a decoration makeover for your home. If you put any decorations near the fireplace we urge you to think about the natural high points in your fireplace and place decorations away from your fireplace’s flame. Whether it be figurines, a Menorah or Christmas stockings we can all be festive and safe this holiday season by thinking about our decor placement when located near your home hearth.
We’d recommend that you firmly secure all decorations located on your mantel, and place decorations the furthest away from the open flame as you can. We also recommend that all wood and kindling be safely located at least 5 feet from the open flame of your fireplace.
Use High Quality Firewood in Your Chimney’s Fireplace
Did you know that when you use low quality firewood you can actually increase the amount of creosote – a flammable material that’s created from smoke buildup in your chimney. This can increase the risk of chimney fires and potentially cause mold or carbon monoxide buildup in the long run if you aren’t regularly scheduling chimney inspections.
We recommend looking for a dense type of wood (like Oak) and avoid wood that contains large amounts of resin, like Pine. We also recommend that you store your firewood in a safe, dry location and dry your wood for at least six months before burning.
Another chimney safety issue is overloading your fireplace or adding too much wood for the capacity of your fireplace. By placing the logs at the back of your fireplace close to the metal grate, you can prevent overloading your fireplace while still being able to enjoy your fire.
Have Proper Fireplace and Chimney Tools
Along with overloading your fireplace and choosing a high-quality firewood, one common issue around the holidays is having the right tools for your fireplace. Using the correct tools for the job can leave you happier in the long run, especially when you’re dealing with your fireplace.
That’s why we recommend using a spark screen, which is a metal guard made of mesh wiring that keeps the sparks within the fireplace. This is especially helpful when adding a new log or moving burning logs.
If you’d like to be extra cautious or have young children or pets in your home we’d recommend scheduling a chimney inspection with a tech to see if you can get glass doors installed. Having glass doors around your fireplace can be more energy efficient, keep young ones and pets safe, and looks good on any fireplace.
We’d also recommend always having a fire extinguisher handy, just in case something goes awry, and that you make sure your wood stove doors are closed.
Ash Disposal and Chimney Maintenance
Did you know that you should be cleaning out the ash in your fireplace after every log burn? This is because ash, alongside not ensuring your fire is completely out before going to bed, can be a hidden cause of chimney sweep fires. When disposing of your ash, take any lidded container and shovel your ash into the container when cool. Place the lid on top of your container and keep away from anything potentially flammable like wood or cloth items.
After disposing of your ash, make sure you also close your damper! Often people think that they should leave the damper open to allow fresh outside air to flow into the house. Although this may sound logical to some, this is actually a potential chimney hazard.
By closing your damper after you’ve put out your fire you can keep your house warm, stop smoke and other harmful gasses from entering your home from the flue, and ensure that your fire won’t be re-lit from varying air currents.
Sometimes scheduling a chimney inspection can be an afterthought, but by taking preventative measures to maintain your chimney with a trusted chimney professional, these chimney hazards can be prevented this winter.
If you’re located in the Greater Atlanta area, give us a call at (770) 790-4471 or contact us online!