Fall is in the air, and if you have a wood-burning fireplace in your home, this is the perfect season to curl up in front of it and enjoy the crackling of orange flames. But before you light that first fire, it’s important to inspect and prepare your fireplace. Doing so will prevent hazards such as house fires, smoke inhalation, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Follow these steps to inspect and prepare your wood burning fireplace.
Step 1: Check the chimney for nests and obstructions.
Birds love to build nests inside of chimneys, and leaves may also blow down your chimney, creating a fire hazard and an obstruction that may force smoke into your home. Shine a flashlight up the chimney to make sure it is clear. If you spot anything in the chimney flue, call a professional to come clean it out.
Step 2: Clean up soot and ash.
Remove the grate from your fireplace, and take it outdoors to hose it off. If the grate is badly caked with buildup, you can apply oven cleaner according to the instructions on the can. Just make sure you clean it off completely before putting the grate back into the fireplace.
Use a shop vac to suck up any soot or dust in the fireplace. If you spot any caked-on soot, use a stiff wire brush to scrub it away.
Step 3: Wash the walls.
It’s a good idea to wash any caked-on soot off your fireplace walls so it does not catch fire or smolder, leading to carbon monoxide accumulation in your home. The easiest way to remove this greasy grime is with a mixture of dish soap and water. Scrub the walls with a sponge dipped in this solution, and then wipe the suds and any lingering debris away with clean water.
Step 4: Check your fire extinguisher and your smoke and CO detectors.
Once you’re sure the wood burning fireplace and chimney are safe and clean, check the batteries on your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. These two instruments are vital for your family’s safety. Keep in mind that carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas. The only way to know if it is present is to use a carbon monoxide detector.
Make sure you also have a fire extinguisher on hand–just in case. Check that it is fully charged, and review the operating instructions on the label so that if you do need to use it, you know how.
Regular inspections and maintenance are essential if you want to keep your wood burning fireplace operating safely. If you’re looking for a chimney cleaner, contact Hassle Free Home Services to learn more about our services. We recommend having your chimney cleaned after you have burned about a cord of wood in your wood burning fireplace–or each fall at the beginning of fire season.