It is the time of year when we start to use the fireplace. A crackling fire is the picture of a cozy home but it can also be a home hazard. Keeping an eye on a few key items inside and out will make sure your wood-burning fireplace is safe and ready to go for the burning season.
Here is a checklist of things to look for on the outside of your fireplace:
- A chimney cap; this keeps out rain, animals away and helps prevents hot embers from landing on the roof.
- Bird’s nest or any type of debris buildup on the cap.
- Tree limbs that hang above or near the chimney.
- Crumbling and/or missing mortar and bricks.
- A chimney that rises at least 2 feet above where it exits the roof.
- A flue liner that is visible above the chimney crown.
- The chimney is plumb and not leaning to one side or the other.
- Roof flashing that is tight against the chimney.
Here is a checklist for the inside of your fireplace:
- A flue damper that opens, closes, and seals properly.
- Daylight can be seen through the flue, no combustible material such as animal nests or other foreign objects in the flue.
- There are no cracked bricks or missing mortar in the fireplace surround, hearth, and firebox.
- No moisture can be seen inside the firebox, which could mean a faulty cap.
If you spot any problems always call a licensed chimney professional or mason to remedy the problem. There is no hard and fast rule on how often to clean your fireplace but you will need to keep a keen eye to determine if it is time for a cleaning. Use your fireplace poker to scrape away some of the creosote from the fireplace lining. If the creosote buildup is is 1/8 of an inch, or more you should schedule a cleaning.