The warm summer months will soon be behind us and it will be time to pull the fireplace from its extended vacation. However, before you even think of building the first fire of the year, there are several precautionary checks you need to do to ensure your family and your home are safe. Here are some tips you can use to ensure that you and yours stay toasty warm and safe once the colder weather hits us.
Check the Gasket Material
Your fireplace uses a gasket material to help prevent gases from escaping into your home and to keep unwanted oxygen from getting into the fireplace. Too much oxygen can cause your fire to burn faster and much hotter than you, resulting in a fire risk. Check around the glass, ash dump, and the door itself to see if the material is damaged, brittle, or missing.
Check Your Firewood
All firewood is not the same. Green wood, wood that has not been seasoned, and softwoods can be dangerous to burn in your fireplace. When these types of wood burn, they produce creosote which builds up in the chimney and can cause major issues because this by-product is flammable. Check your wood supply and make sure you are burning hardwoods, such as oak, that has been split and stored in a dry area for no less than six months.
Check and Clean the Blower
The blower is a key component to ensuring your fireplace is operating as it should and keeping your home warm. While not all fireplaces have a blower, those that do usually do not have any type of filter. As time goes on, debris can build up in the blower and can cause serious issues. If your fireplace is equipped with a blower, make sure you inspect it and clean it before you start using your fireplace.
Check Wood Moisture
Yes, we have covered firewood already, however, it is an important aspect to ensuring a safe season. As mentioned previously, green firewood can cause a fire risk as creosote accumulates in your chimney. To help ensure your wood is seasoned properly, use a moisture meter to check your firewood.
Inspect for any Damage
When you inspect your fireplace, make sure you check everything. Inspect the chimney for cracks. Check to see if the firebrick inside of the fireplace has any cracks, chips, or missing mortar. Check to make sure the grate is solid and intact. Check and make sure the ash pan is not bent to the point that it does not close completely. While this may seem like an extensive and overly cautious list, the safety of your family and home depends on how thoroughly you prepare for the colder season.
The Right Addition
Many families are turning to wood burning fireplaces to save on utility costs during the fall and winter months. While this is a smart move, making sure you add the right stove is even smarter. Some fireplaces are designed for smaller areas while others are designed to heat large areas. Having the wrong one could leave you chilly or smoldering hot. Check with an authorized dealer to determine which is the best fit for your home.
Call in the Professionals
If conducting the checks we have mentioned is a bit more than you think you can handle, call a professional to check it for you. Most will charge a nominal fee but the safety of your home and family are well worth every penny.
There you have it. With these checks, you can rest easy knowing that your family will stay safe and warm when the cooler weather falls upon us. Good luck and stay safe.