Keep the Fire Burning

Chimney Safety Tips – Building and Burning a Safe Fire

Enjoying a fire in the fireplace is a favorite family activity during the cold weather seasons. However, those cozy evenings can quickly turn to disaster if the fire is not built and burned safely. There are a few simple tips every homeowner can keep in mind in order to enjoy their fireplace without putting themselves, their families, and their homes at unnecessary risk.

To get maximum enjoyment from your fireplace...you must use it as intended.

To get maximum enjoyment from your fireplace…you must use it as intended.

The most important part of burning a safe fire is starting with a clean fireplace. It is recommended that the fireplace and chimney are cleaned each year by a professional chimney sweep. However, it is also necessary to do some basic maintenance after each fire. Sweep out the fireplace after the fire is out, but leave about a half inch of ash behind for insulation. Embers left behind in the fireplace can remain hot enough to ignite for more than a day, so it is important to properly dispose of them after each fire.

Another important thing to remember is that only certain types of hardwood should be used to make a fire.  In addition to using the right type of wood, it is necessary to use wood that has been seasoned for at least eight months, although twelve months is ideal.  Using wood that is not properly seasoned can cause the fire to become very smoky, filling the home with smoke. Other materials may also burn too hot, which can make the fire dangerous.

If the proper wood is being used for the fire but the room is still filling with smoke, there is a chance that the damper is closed. The damper is a piece inside of the flue that opens up to allow smoke out during a fire but closes when the chimney is not in use to keep out unwanted material. Leaving the damper closed is a common mistake, so remember to check carefully before starting a fire.

When the chimney becomes clogged, there are many dangerous situations that can occur. One, of course, is that smoke and combustible gasses cannot exit the flue. Another is that the material inside may be flammable, which can lead to a chimney fire. Installing a chimney cap is a simple and effective way to keep excess material out of the chimney, making it safe to burn a fire in the fireplace.

There are many safety issues related to fireplaces and chimneys that the average person could never anticipate or detect. For that reason, it is important to have the chimney inspected by a professional chimney inspector each year. They will be able to identify any potential safety risks and offer educated suggestions as to how they can be corrected. This is a good thing to include in the yearly routine during the fall, before the fireplace will be used for the year.

Using the fireplace and chimney properly is essential for maintaining a safe home. In order to avoid a hazardous situation, make sure that both elements are clean and that the flue is clear. It is also necessary to burn the proper materials in the fireplace. An annual inspection can help prevent any dangerous situations before they occur.