Tips on Using a Fireplace for the First Time
There’s a difference between using a wood-burning fireplace that hasn’t been used in two weeks and one that hasn’t been used in two years – or one that you, personally, have never used. Here are some things you’ll want to know in either of the latter two cases.
When you move into a new but previously occupied home that has a fireplace, the only thing you know about that fireplace is that you know nothing about it. No matter what a Realtor or the departing homeowners have told you, there’s no way to know precisely when it was last used, inspected and cleaned or if there are any damage issues that you can’t see with the naked eye.
Step 1: Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
No fireplace whether new or old should be operated without strategically placed smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure they’re in place before striking the first match.
Step 2: Have the chimney inspected
A thorough chimney inspection by a professional chimney sweep will accomplish three things:
· Chimneys often become homes to small animals like birds and squirrels who build nests there. Many of these animals also die inside chimneys. Additionally leaves, twigs and other flying debris can wind up in a chimney and create an obstruction that impedes the flow of smoke. A good chimney cleaning will remove all of this.
· Any time you burn wood, a substance known as creosote is created. Creosote is highly flammable and is responsible for the majority of chimney fires. There’s no way an untrained homeowner can assess the level of creosote built up in a chimney. A professional will both assess it and remove it.
· While chimneys are built from strong materials, they don’t last forever. Small cracks in the bricks and mortar can allow water to get into the structure, where it freezes and expands then melts and reduces its volume. This is how serious destruction begins. A trained chimney sweep will perform a comprehensive inspection to spot damage, hopefully in the early stages.
Step 3: Further inspection
Areas you’ll want to look at include:
· Chimney cap: Installed on top of the chimney, the chimney cap prevents unwanted things from getting into the chimney. If the cap’s wire mesh is damaged, it needs to be repaired.
· Flashing: This is the material that surrounds the chimney, making a seal between the chimney and the roof. Look for signs of warping or erosion.
· Moisture: If there’s a compromise in the chimney’s building materials, water will seep in. Check the firebox closely for any sign of water or condensation.
· Damper: Make sure the damper opens completely and closes with a tight seal.
By following these guidelines, you’ll be ensuring optimal fireplace operation and safety for everyone in the home.
In the Burlington, Wis., area, people count on Burlington Fireplace to provide expert inspection, cleaning, repair and maintenance of all types of fireplaces. If it’s time for any of these services, call the professionals at (262) 763-3522.