Protect Your Fireplace From Winter Storms
Winter is nearly here, and with gas and electric prices rising, many homeowners will rely more heavily on their fireplaces than before. Let’s look at the top tips to protect your fireplace from harsh winter weather and ensure it runs safely and efficiently all season.
Schedule A Professional Cleaning
A clean chimney is a safe chimney. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), most chimney fires occur because of creosote buildup in the flue. Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood. It’s corrosive and highly flammable. The problem with creosote buildup is that it doesn’t take much to create a dangerous situation. The CSIA states all it takes is a 1/8” buildup to cause a fire. If you use your fireplace regularly, experts recommend annual cleaning from a certified professional.
Schedule Inspection, Maintenance & Repair
It’s difficult for the average homeowner to see problems in the fireplace and chimney because these areas aren’t easily accessible, and they don’t know what to look for. Like annual cleaning, you must schedule an inspection by a trained professional to spot potential issues that could put your safety at risk and cause your fireplace to run inefficiently. Experts recommend getting an inspection in the spring or fall to allow ample time to resolve issues before winter.
Clean Your Fireplace
While we’re on the subject of cleaning and maintenance for your chimney, you must do the same for your fireplace by cleaning it thoroughly. Remove soot and smoke stains by scrubbing them away with a mixture of all-purpose cleaner and water. Check with your fireplace professional to determine which cleaners are appropriate for your fireplace material. After cleaning the stone, clean the glass doors and remove ash and debris from the firebox.
Check the Damper
The fireplace damper regulates airflow for a more efficient fire and prevents cold air from coming down the chimney, making your home uncomfortable. Because the damper is a mechanical device exposed to high temperatures and creosote, it’s prone to wear and tear.
When preparing your fireplace for winter, check the damper to ensure it opens and closes easily. Like creosote buildup, a damaged damper puts your family at risk when using the fireplace.
Once you’ve performed maintenance and cleaning, it’s time to build a fire. But before you do, here are a few tips to ensure everyone is safe and your fire burns efficiently.
Check the Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can save your life, so it’s essential that they work properly. Before using your fireplace, test all the alarms and replace the batteries if necessary.
It’s easy for the area around your fireplace to become cluttered during summer. Pet toys, children’s toys, furniture, boxes, etc., accumulate, making the floor space next to your fireplace messy and unsafe. Before winter, take a moment to clean up the area and remove objects that are flammable and create tripping hazards.
Only Burn Seasoned Firewood
If you’re new to fireplaces, you may think that any wood will do to start a fire, but that’s not true. The most efficient and safest wood to burn is seasoned wood. Fresh-cut wood contains too much moisture, which produces more smoke and burns less efficiently. Seasoned wood is wood that’s been cut, stored, and dried for at least six months. If you don’t have time to season wood, you can purchase it or kiln-dried wood.
Install Safety Screens
Even if you’ve used your fireplace safely for years, installing safety screens is a good idea, especially if you have young children or pets. Safety screens prevent hot embers and sparks from popping out onto the floor and keep children and pets at a safe distance. A fireplace screen can be freestanding or installed directly onto the fireplace.
About Fire N’ Stone
Fire N’ Stone is a full-service fireplace and chimney company serving residents throughout Tilton, NH. Our expert technicians are highly trained, insured, and certified by the National Fireplace Institute and the Chimney Safety Institute of America. Whether you need chimney cleaning, maintenance, inspection, repairs, or custom stonework, we’ve got you covered.
Contact us today to speak to one of our helpful representatives, or visit our 3,400 square-foot showroom at 539 Laconia Rd., Tilton, NH.