With winter upon us, your fireplace is most likely being used very frequently. However, certain safety measures should be taken into consideration during fireplace season. Old Hat Chimney Service would like to tell you more about wood-burning stove and fireplace safety. As part of our duty as CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, we like to educate our customers to help them prevent disasters like a house fire or a carbon monoxide leak. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have worked together to release an educational brochure with important winter fire safety tips, and we would like to share these tips with you.
Schedule an annual chimney sweeping and inspection, preferably right before winter begins.
This tip ranks high in fire safety importance as having your chimney swept and inspected before winter will guarantee your chimney is free from hazardous and combustible creosote deposits. A natural residue from the byproducts of combustion, creosote forms during the condensation process and builds up on the interior walls of your chimney. Creosote deposits are one of the main causes of chimney fires. A pre-winter chimney inspection is equally important to check the components of your chimney to see if any essential repairs are needed.
Be sure your fireplace or stove has been properly installed.
If you have a wood-burning stove, it should have a clearance of at least 36 inches from combustible surfaces. Wood-burning stoves also require proper floor support and protection. Old Hat Chimney Service recommends you have your fireplace and your wood-burning stove professionally installed to ensure these fire safety measures are met.
Install glass fireplace doors or place a metal screen in front of your fireplace.
Glass doors and metal screens can prevent fires by keeping hot sparks and embers inside your fireplace instead of jumping out into your living space and possibly causing a fire. They also prevent objects from falling into the fireplace and protect people and animals from getting burned by the fire.
Before you go to sleep, be sure the fire in your fireplace is out.
If any hot ashes remain, you should never close the damper. Closing the damper allows the fire to heat up again, and this will force poisonous carbon monoxide back into your home. If the damper is closed, the toxic gas has no other means of escape.
When you use synthetic logs, always follow the manufacturer’s instruction.
You should never break a synthetic log in an attempt to get the fire to start more quickly. You should also only use one of these logs at a time because they often do not burn evenly, which causes them to release higher levels of carbon monoxide.
Never overbuild your fire.
Using excessive amounts of paper to get a roaring fire going can be a fire hazard. Overbuilding a fire can cause creosote deposits in your chimney to ignite and start a chimney fire.
Want to learn more fire safety tips for the winter? Contact Old Hat Chimney Service to find out more ways you can prevent hazards during the cold months.