A fireplace provides heat and comfort in winter. However, if it isn’t maintained properly, it can also be dangerous and cause smoke inhalation or a full-blown house fire. Let’s look at how to keep your fireplace safe to use all winter long. 

Have the Chimney Swept and Inspected

There may be problems around the chimney area on the roof because it’s unlikely you regularly check that part of your home. Inspect the chimney cap and the exterior. The cap is designed to keep your fireplace safe by preventing moisture, debris, and pests from getting into the chimney. There shouldn’t be cracks, gaps, or crumbling areas on your chimney. Having the chimney swept is equally important. Hire a professional to inspect and sweep the chimney at least once a year.

Keep Your Fireplace Safe by Checking Inside

Look up the flue for any type of damage, moisture, or animal activity. You’ll probably encounter very few problems if the chimney cap and flue damper are in good working condition. Make sure that the flue damper is closed and sealed off whenever you’re not using your fireplace. If you keep the flue damper open, heat escapes and you’ll have higher utility bills. Check that the damper is easy to open and close.

Complete Regular Maintenance Tasks

After the above inspections and repairs have been made and everything is in good working order, a few maintenance tasks will keep your fireplace safe all season long.

Check all of the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors throughout your house and make sure they work properly. You probably won’t open a window over the next three or four months, but you might have a fire going almost every day. Make sure you’ll be notified if a fire or carbon monoxide issue occurs.

Invest in the correct tools to use with your fireplace. 

  • Tongs
  • A broom
  • An iron poker
  • A shovel
  • A spark barrier

Wait at least 24 hours to allow your fireplace to cool off before sweeping out old ashes. Sweeping out hot ashes is a potential fire hazard when embers are smoldering beneath the pile. 

Be careful about the type of cleaner you use on surrounding bricks or the glass doors of the fireplace. Don’t use anything flammable or with toxic chemicals.

More Safety Tips to Keep Your Fireplace Safe

  • Don’t ever leave a fire while it’s still burning. Put it out completely before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Don’t burn paper or garbage in the fireplace.
  • Keep your pets and children away from the fire and its surrounding area.
  • Keep all flammable objects clear of the fireplace.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher close to the fireplace.
  • Use only kindling, dry wood, and ignition logs. Don’t ever use kerosene, gasoline, or damp wood.
  • Be careful when closing the damper. Make sure all signs of smoke are gone.

Premier Inspection Services provides home inspection services to Upstate New York. Contact us to schedule your inspection.