How to Inspect Your Fireplace and Keep It Safe to Use
Watching the glow of a fire in your hearth and listening to the crackling of burning logs are two of the more relaxing things you can do in the winter. Even if you don’t use your home’s fireplace as a primary source of heat, few things are as pleasing as a warm fire on a cold night.
Safety must come first, though. Avoid damage to your home and fire by regularly inspecting your fireplace. Here are some tips and suggestions for inspecting your fireplace.
Schedule yearly professional checkups
Bring in a certified chimney specialist at least once a year to conduct a professional inspection. A professional will pay particular attention to roof damage near the chimney, a discolored or misshapen rain cap and a warped damper.
You should also visually inspect your hearth and chimney every time you go to light a fire.You Check for creosote flakes on the roof or ground, loose bricks in the firebox, cracks on the outside of the chimney and cracked or missing flue tiles.
Chimneys built from soft bricks require the most thorough inspections because those materials deteriorate more rapidly.
Make sure the flue liner fits
Smoke and carbon monoxide can vent into your house instead of going up the chimney if the metal flue liner doesn’t fit properly. Signs that the liner needs to be replaced include smoke stains on the metal and soot buildup around the hearth.
Use a metal mesh screen to cover your fireplace or make sure to close glass fireplace doors when enjoying a fire. This improves combustion, which increases heat production, and it also allows air to flow freely. Strong air flow reduces the buildup of creosote in the chimney, and that helps prevent chimney fires.
Move flammables away from the hearth
Keep fire hazards such as rugs, window coverings, holiday decorations and child or pet toys away from your fireplace at all times. Place only a set of fireplace tools on the hearth, never extra wood.