How to Safely Start Using an Old Fireplace
If your old fireplace could talk, it may have enlightening stories to tell, not the least of which is that it’s not currently safe to use! Depending on how old your home is, it’s sometimes impossible to know for sure whether your fireplace is at all functional. If your home was built in the late 1800s, for example, the fireplace could have been altered to become part of the venting system for a boiler, allowing for an early version of central heating. Don’t take a chance! The following are some tips for starting up an old fireplace safely.
Look for Signs of Critters
If it has been a really long time since your fireplace has been used, there is no telling who may have taken up residence in the chimney system. Raccoons, snakes, squirrels, birds, and other creatures are all drawn to chimneys as places to nest or escape the cold of winter. The primary signs that animals either previously resided in the chimney or still live inside, include droppings, foul odors, and the presence of vegetation.
Get Your Chimney Inspected
Your fireplace will be inspected along with your chimney when you call on trusted chimney sweep experts for a chimney inspection. The purpose of a chimney inspection is to determine how safe it is to use the fireplace. The following are some of the things frequently detected during a chimney inspection:
- The chimney is obstructed by creosote buildup, meaning that there are so many layers of creosote, the chimney draft can’t operate properly.
- The chimney masonry is damaged, and if you were to build a fire, it would be very hazardous because the chimney is not lined. First, combustible materials would be exposed to intense heat. Secondly, toxic combustion gases would leak into the home and expose the occupants to deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
- During an inspection of the chimney flue (in a chimney that has one) a special camera is used and reveals that the chimney flue is damaged and must be repaired or replaced.
Following the chimney inspection, if Burlington Fireplace & Heating is providing inspection services, the NFI-certified chimney sweep will let you know of any needed repairs. A quote can also be provided for the repairs to be done at a competitive price and in a timely manner. Our chimney technicians can do any alterations needed, including completely rebuilding old, damaged chimneys, fully renewing their structural integrity.
Check your Safety Alarms
Once your fireplace and chimney have been checked and repaired, as needed, it’s important that you have a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector operating and installed in the recommended places. Combination alarms are available. Both smoke and carbon monoxide can be deadly. People are usually asleep in their beds when they are overcome by smoke. Carbon monoxide is tasteless, odorless, invisible, and symptomless, which means you may be exposed and not know it until it’s too late to escape the deadly fumes—unless you have a carbon monoxide detector.
At Burlington Fireplace & Heating, we are here for you. We can provide all chimney repairs and maintenance services. In order to further use our expertise to help our customers, we also sell and professionally install heating appliances. We are able to fill you in on all of your options and help you determine which fuel type and appliance model is best for your home and your lifestyle. Give us a call today at 262-763-3522 for help with an old, unused fireplace and for all of your fireplace and chimney needs.