A lot of people never think about whether or not their fireplace is safe to use until it’s too late. However, checking your fireplace is easy, can save you time and money and prevents countless numbers of injuries. All you need to do is follow the steps below to make sure that your fireplace is safe to use this season.
The first step you should take is doing a chimney inspection. Luckily, you don’t need a professional to do this as long as you know what you’re looking for. In order to be thorough make sure you inspect both the inside and outside of your chimney.
When checking the outside of your chimney, first make sure that no visible debris has built up. Look for animal nests, branches, twigs and any leaves. Next, take a look around the outside of your chimney for any visible damage that may have occurred. If you see any crumbling bricks or mortar, call a professional. If your chimney cap is damaged, or missing, make sure to replace or repair it prior to starting any fires.
Once you’ve checked the exterior of your chimney, move on to the inside. Animals may have made nests inside while your fireplace was not in use. Additionally, do the same inspections for general damage on the inside of your fireplace as you did outside. Some damage can be hidden, so if you have any doubt then it’s best to get a professional inspection.
A flue damper is the part of your fireplace that makes sure no heat escapes your home whenever your fireplace is not being used. In order to save on heating bills, it’s constantly closed if there is no fire. However, when there is a fire opening the flue damper is what allows smoke to leave your home.
It is important both in the open and closed position, so checking this should not go overlooked. If it doesn’t completely open or close, make sure you get it fixed before you begin to use your fireplace. When it doesn’t open completely, carbon monoxide and harmful byproducts from the smoke can enter your home.
One of the most dangerous aspects of your fireplace is the buildup of creosote. Creosote is a chemical that is highly flammable and easily builds up inside of chimneys. It is the result of the chemical reaction that occurs when you burn wood through combustion gas. Overtime, it builds up and lines your chimney and flue and looks very similar to tar. It can be either black or brown and can occur in many different thicknesses.
The problem with creosote is that since it is extremely flammable, the more buildup you have the more likely it will be to ignite or combust. It only takes a small spark to start a fire with creosote, which is why your fireplace may not be safe to use. Large buildups can even lead to explosions and cause structural damage to your home along with injuries to your family.
Unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to remove creosote without professional equipment and cleaning agents. We recommend that you have it professionally cleaned at least once a year, either before or after you start to use your fireplace. If you live in places where you use your fireplace more often, consider getting it done twice a year. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
After you’ve checked all of the structural components of your fireplace and chimney, make sure that there are no obstructions in front of your fireplace before lighting it. Things can heat up quickly and combust if they are too close.
Finally, make sure that your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors are all in working order and have fully charged batteries. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and deadly, taking a few minutes for this inspection can easily be the difference between life and death.
You should always take these steps in order to make sure that your fireplace is safe to use. If all of these steps are done and everything seems good to go, then your fireplace is likely safe to use. If you find any structural damage, or that you need to get your fireplace professionally cleaned, don’t hesitate to call us at Chicago Tuckpointing Inc. We are certified masonry contractors that will ensure that the job gets done right and in a timely manner. All of our contractors are professional and put you and your family’s safety first. Call us today at (708) 942-1951 or visit our website at www.chicagotuckpointinginc.com.