Autumn has arrived which means the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. It also means that the weather is getting cooler. There is nothing more comforting on a cold night than getting cozy around a roaring fire in the fireplace. But before you do that, there are some FIREPLACE MAINTENANCE AND SAFETY TIPS you should be aware of:
For wood-burning fireplaces:
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you need to get your chimney inspected by a licensed professional prior to lighting your first fire of the season. Remember that safety is the top priority when using a fireplace. The Facts About Chimney Fires
- Next you need to get your fireplace ready for use. If there are any ashes leftover from last year, clean them out with a broom. Make sure that the damper is open and working properly.
- Gather and prep the logs you are going to use; seasoned hardwood that has been split and dried for at least six months; even better if it has been a year. You will know it is seasoned hardwood if it is dark and cracked at the ends and makes a hollow sound when knocked together. Prepare for a long-lasting fire by placing a rolled-up ball of newspaper beneath the grates. Then lay narrow pieces of finely split wood in a crisscross pattern on the grates. To finish up, stack one to three dry logs over the kindling. How to Pick the Best Firewood for Clean Burning, Long Lasting-Fires
- Now it is time to prime the flue. This is to heat up the cold air inside the flue so that smoke does not back up into your house. Before you light the fire, light a tightly rolled-up sheet of newspaper, and hold it toward the open damper. Leave it there for a couple of minutes until you see smoke going up the flue.
- Come on baby light your fire! Now you are ready to get that ROARING FIRE going so you can relax and enjoy it! If the fire starts to wane, gently fan the flames with folded newspaper or use a poker to get the air flowing again. Use tongs to add logs as needed to provide more fuel.
- One of the most IMPORTANT things you must do for safety is to make sure the fire has gone COMPLETELY OUT before you go to be for the night. If your fireplace has metal or glass doors, close them after the fire is out.
For gas fireplaces:
- Look at your owner’s manual just to give yourself a reminder of the basic cleaning and maintenance needed to keep your fireplace functional and safe. Remember that different fireplace models may require different types of cleaning and maintenance.
- Examine the outdoor vent. During the off season, your fireplace vent can become clogged with debris. If the vent is clogged and you light a fire, you risk not only having a fire hazard, but also having unsafe amounts of carbon monoxide levels in your home. Clear away any cobwebs, leaves or other debris that are in the vent. If it appears that there have been pests living in the vent, you may need to call a pest control professional to come out and address it. Gas Fireplace Troubleshooting – 3 Quick Tips
- Check your glass covering for any CRACKS or CHIPS that might weaken it or allow harmful gases into your home. Remember that the enclosure helps regulate carbon monoxide when the fireplace is on. Tighten any hinges that might have loosened to make sure the glass closes securely over the fireplace.
- Clean the internal elements of the fireplace. The ceramic log, rocks, or beads in your gas fireplace can become dusty while not being used. This can create an unpleasant burning smell when you start a fire. How to Clean a Gas Fireplace
- Dust the blower. The electric blower in your fireplace helps circulate warm air throughout your home. It can become dirty during the summer and needs to be cleaned to run more efficiently.
- Inspect your pilot light to make sure there are no loose or exposed wires. If you do see issues, have a PROFESSIONAL come to assess the problem before you turn the pilot light on.
- If you are not comfortable with your own assessment of your gas fireplace, schedule a professional inspection. An inspection can help identify problems such as gas leaks or broken sensors.
Whether you have a wood burning or gas fireplace, just remember SAFETY FIRST! Then, make some hot chocolate, grab a good book, and cozy up by the crackling fire for warm, comforting relaxation!
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