Winter is just around the corner. If you have a fireplace, now's the time to make sure that it's up and ready to warm your home. According to statistics, chimney fires are responsible for about $120 million in fire damages throughout the US. You can help prevent chimney fires by keeping your fireplace clean. Here are four steps to keep your fireplace clean and ready for use.
Check the Chimney for Debris
Before you use your fireplace for the first time this winter, you need to make sure that the chimney is clean. Things like leaves and bird's nests can clog your chimney. If rodents have made their way into your chimney, you might even find small pieces of garbage in your chimney. Use a flashlight to look inside your chimney. If you see debris, you should schedule a cleaning before you use your fireplace this winter.
Clear the Ash and Debris
Take a look inside your fireplace. If the firebox is dirty, you should clean it before you start your first winter fire. The ash, dirt and debris inside your firebox can pose a serious threat to your safety. To prevent house fires, you should make sure you clean your firebox at least once a week.
Open the Damper
When it's cold outside, the idea of opening the damper before the fire is lit may not seem so inviting. If you're in the habit of leaving the damper closed until the fire is lit, you could be allowing carbon monoxide to build up in your home. You could also be allowing additional soot and creosote to build up inside your chimney. To keep your chimney clean – and your air safe – open the damper before you start the fire in your fireplace.
Choose Wood Wisely
When it comes to fireplaces, all wood is not created equal. To keep your fireplace clean and reduce smoke, you should choose a good dry wood for your fires. If you're not sure how to choose dry wood, look for wood that has been seasoned for at least 12 months after splitting. You can also identify dry wood by smacking two pieces together. If they sound like the clap of a baseball hitting a bat, the wood is dry enough to use.
If you have a fireplace, you need to make sure it's ready for winter. Use the tips described above to keep your fireplace clean and safe. For more information, check out a site like http://www.villagefireplaceandbbq.com.