With fall here and colder weather approaching, it’s important that your home is cozy and warm. Before building your first fire, there are a few things to keep in mind. Burning wood in your home isn’t without risks. Burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, and exposure to toxic fumes are some of the dangers you may face. However, with some foresight, you can reduce the risks. Read on to learn how to prepare your fireplace for safe use before winter.
Prepare Your Fireplace By Inspecting It
If you are unfamiliar with fireplace and chimney care, defer to a professional to inspect these components of your home. One of the most important things to verify is that the fireplace is safe and functional.
Examine your fireplace for damage, making sure there are no cracks or missing bricks inside or out. Check that the damper is working. Its purpose is to control the airflow in and out of the fireplace. A damper that won’t open puts you at risk of exposure to toxic fumes, including carbon monoxide.
Installing a cap over the top of your chimney helps prevent animals, leaves, and other debris from blocking airflow. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that you inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney at least once a year and check for damage and debris once a month.
Before you build a fire, clean the chimney. Some homeowners tackle this job themselves, but it’s best to hire a chimney sweep to safely remove debris and creosote.
Prepare Your Home for Using the Fireplace
After completing a thorough inspection of your fireplace and chimney, there are a few ways you can prepare the inside of your home before building a fire. Doing so will keep children, pets, and your property safer.
It is important to have an approved screen placed in front of your fireplace. The screen blocks pets and children from the flames. It also prevents rolling logs or flying sparks from potentially starting a fire in your home. Fuel, extra logs, and anything flammable should be stored at least five feet away from the fireplace.
If necessary, rearrange the room to move furniture, rugs, and curtains so that they are at least five feet away from the flames. Check that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and replace their batteries as needed.