Checklist to Prepare your Fireplace or Wood Stove for Winter
In summer, there can be a temptation to dive headlong into a cool body of water; but it’s critical to check for depth first. In winter, there is a similar temptation that can potentially be hazardous. The arrival of winter can come suddenly, creating the perfect mood and motivation to build a cozy fire. Before using your wood or gas fireplace or stove, however, be sure the appliance and chimney are ready to be safely used.
Winter Checklist Before Using your Fireplace and Stove
Modern fireplaces and stoves are viable sources of supplemental heat and favorite home amenities, although certain risks go along with using open-flame heating systems. It can be dangerous to use a fireplace or stove without first ensuring that the appliances are safe to use. Most fireplace-related house fires are the result of lighting fires without keeping up with annual maintenance. The following is a helpful checklist to make sure your fireplace and/or stove is ready to provide warmth to your household, when needed:
□ Schedule an annual chimney inspection. This essential step in safety is recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Chimney experts have the best tools for cleaning your chimney and checking to be sure the flue liner is free of defects. If the liner has even minor damage, repair or replacement is needed before using your fireplace or stove.
□ Gas fireplaces and stoves also need to be checked annually by a qualified technician. The system can become clogged due to dust or insects.
□ The exterior of your chimney is vulnerable to moisture and needs to be checked. Any cracks in the masonry or chimney crown, loose masonry, or deteriorating mortar provides evidence that moisture damage may be occurring and repair is needed.
□ Add a chimney cap or chimney topper, if you don’t already have one. A chimney topper provides multiple benefits, such as keeping out moisture and animals. When the chimney cap has a mesh spark guard, it also helps to prevent hot embers from potentially starting a fire on your rooftop. Your existing chimney cap may need to be replaced, since these appliances don’t have the same durability as the chimney itself.
Tips for Using your Fireplace or Stove Safely
Once your gas or wood fireplace or stove has been checked by a chimney expert, you can rest assured that your appliance is safe to use. It’s important, however, to also use open-flame appliances correctly. The following are a few safety reminders:
- Be sure that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are installed as recommended and in good working order. Replace batteries every six months and change out the alarms themselves every five to ten years.
- Open the damper before starting a fire.
- Burn only seasoned firewood. Never burn treated wood because it will emit toxic gases.
- Never use flammable liquids to help get a fire started.
- Do not crowd a fireplace with too many logs. If the fireplace becomes over-fired, the flue could become damaged or a hazardous chimney fire could be ignited.
- Protect your home from shooting embers by placing a spark guard in front of your fireplace, if there are no glass doors.
At Burlington Fireplace & Solar, we have the fireplaces, stoves, and inserts that will make you eager for wintry days. We also have qualified experts to perform your annual inspection and maintenance as well as needed repairs and rebuilds. Contact our experts today, to be sure your fireplace or stove is safe to use and ready for a roaring fire.