As the temperatures begin to drop and you find that your heating bills begin to rise, you might find yourself falling back on old faithful: your fireplace. Did you know, however, that fireplaces are one of the leading causes of house fires? It's true. This is not to say that you should not use your fireplace. It just means that when you do use your fireplace, you should keep a few tips in mind to ensure you are using it safely, preventing any accident.
Clean Your Chimney
Chimney sweeps, that is to say chimney cleaners, might seem like something that belong solely to the provenance of Mary Poppins or a Dickens novel, but this is far from the case. It is important to have your chimney swept and cleaned at least once a year, preferably at the beginning of winter. You need to have your chimney cleaned because soot and creosote (a substance that is a combination of numerous chemicals that form during fires that harden inside of your chimney) are both quite combustible. Build-up of these substances can start an unwanted fire in your chimney, which can then lead to a larger fire in your home.
Prevent Or Detect Carbon Monoxide
Fireplaces can generate carbon monoxide, which is a colorless and odorless gas that is incredibly damaging to humans. The only way to effectively test for the presence of carbon monoxide in your home is to buy a carbon monoxide detector, although there are several signs of the presence of carbon monoxide for which you should you be on the lookout. Rusting or water streaks on your chimney, your chimney looking "disconnected" or "loose" and falling debris from the chimney are all potential signs of the presence of carbon monoxide in your home due to the use of your fireplace.
Burn Seasoned Hardwood
It is important to burn seasoned hardwood, as burning any other forms of timber can contribute to a potential (unwanted) fire in your fireplace. When burning wood in your fireplace, make sure it is a dense wood, such as oak. Also, make sure that it has been cured, dried and properly stored for up to 6 months before using it in your fireplace. Wood that is not seasoned can lead to the buildup of creosote, which, as mentioned previously, has a tendency to attach itself to the innards of your chimney and develop into a combustible substance.
Build Your Fire Correctly
Make sure that all of your logs are placed on a metal grate and that you light the fire correctly. Do not take the easy way out by using a fluid to start your fires. Build small, slow burning fires that will not damage your spark guard screen, too high of heat can damage the metals spark guard screens are traditionally made of . Not only will you reduce the chance of you starting a fire in your home, but you will actually ensure that your house is warmer. You will also produce substantially less creosote.
Use A Spark Guard
Unless you plan on always being around to watch the nature of the fire burn in your fireplace, you should always make sure that you have a spark guard present in front of your fireplace. A spark guard is an object that is made of metal mesh and will ensure that no stray sparks will shoot out onto your carpet. In addition to this, a spark guard will also ensure that no logs roll down onto the floor of your home.
Fireplaces, like custom ones from Alpine Fireplaces, are a nice addition to any home. However, if not taken care of properly, or not watched over, a fireplace can be something that can serve to destroy your home. Stay warm, but be careful.