Relaxing in front of a fire on a cold night is one of the few true pleasures of winter. But without proper fire prevention safety steps, your chimney and fireplace could hold the recipe for disaster. Roughly a thousand people die every year in winter home fires that result in over $2 billion in damages.
Many of these blazes, around 42%, are attributed to unsafe home heating practices. Whether you have a gas fireplace or wood burning, there are still steps to be taken to ensure that you and your family stay safe throughout the winter months.
Here are some simple tips to follow to the keep “Old Man Winter” safely at bay:
Keep It Clean
Many fireplace users know that they should have their chimney cleaned by a certified chimney sweep before lighting their first fire of the season. This is needed because of Creosote buildup on the inside of chimneys. Creosote is an extremely flammable black tar like substance that accumulates over time through wood smoke.
It is also important to keep the area around your fireplace clean as well. Many people may leave combustibles close to their fireplace which can ignite from high temperatures or flying embers from the fire.
With a gas fireplace, it is important to keep the blower clean as well. Unlike the fan in your furnace, there is no filter to keep dust and hair from building up and potentially creating a fire hazard.
Keep the Outside World Outside
This involves a couple different things. One is the damper which needs to work smoothly for optimum performance of your fireplace. Make sure it opens and closes easily and only keep it open when the fireplace is in use. Forgetting to close the damper when not running a fire will allow cold drafts to enter your house.
It is also advisable to install a cap or screen at the top of your chimney. The last thing you want is for animals to have access to the inside of your home. Check for birds, nests, squirrels, and other rodents that might look to make their home in your chimney.
Don’t crack up
Check the mortar around the bricks in the fireplace and chimney for cracks. Some deterioration in the lining of your fireplace can occur, but if the steel body is exposed there can be permanent damage from the heat of a fire.
Cracks in your chimney can lead to fires and other kinds of damage to your home. Make sure the chimney is securely attached to your roof and that there are no signs of deterioration or rust. Cracks on the outside of your chimney can lead to water damage that is harmful to your entire house, not just the chimney.
Following these simple steps will keep you and your family safely warm throughout the winter. For more information on fire life safety prevention and protection systems, check out our blog.