Avoid Fire Hazards with Proper Cleaning and Maintenance
If you own a home with a fireplace, you’re familiar with the joys of cozying up next to a crackling fire. But, if your fireplace isn’t maintained, you and your home could be in trouble. Read on to learn more about serious fire hazards that can occur if you fail to maintain your fireplace, and tips to keep your fireplace clean and safe in your home.
CREOSOTE BUILDUP CAN CAUSE HOME FIRES
The number one danger your fireplace presents is when creosote builds up in your chimney and causes a fire. Creosote is a tar-like substance that accumulates on the walls of a chimney each time you make a fire. When creosote builds up to about ⅛ inch and comes into contact with temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, it can become the source of fire in your chimney that can then spread to your home. The best way to prevent creosote from becoming a danger to your home is to properly maintain and clean your fireplace.
PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE FOR YOUR FIREPLACE
Before you begin the process of cleaning and maintaining a fireplace, consider these tips to ensure proper functioning and a safe environment.
- Buy the right wood: The first step to ensuring fireplace safety is burning the correct firewood. Only burn seasoned hardwood, like oak, hard maple and birch, as other kinds of woods, like cedar or pine, can leave more creosote buildup.
- Check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms: Be sure to keep your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in working order to alert you to any fire-related issues.
- Keep combustible materials away: The area around your fireplace should be clear of any materials that catch fire easily, like carpets, drapes and furniture.
STEPS FOR CLEANING YOUR FIREPLACE
- Clear chimney and flue of debris: Look up inside your chimney to ensure it is free of debris like leaves and bird nests that can possibly become fuel for a fire.
- Remove soot and debris from inside, then clean off creosote: Use a broom or fireplace shovel to remove ash from the bottom of your fireplace and a thick bristled brush to scrub off creosote from the sides. After brushing, use a cleanser and rag to clear off the rest of the creosote.
- Clean fireplace doors: Take the glass doors off the fireplace and use a combination of water, vinegar and cornstarch to create a paste that you leave on the doors for 30 min. Then, buff the dried mixture until the doors shine clear.
- Chimney sweep inspection: It’s always a good idea to get a professional chimney sweep to visit each year who can inspect structural elements (like making sure brick mortar is in place) and check roof flashings on the exterior. A professional chimney sweep will also check that the chimney is structurally sound and that the chimney cap is in good working condition.
Ensuring that your fireplace is maintained is integral to keeping your home comfortable and safe. If you need more tips and advice on fireplace maintenance, or would like to schedule a fireplace inspection, contact South Sound Inspections today!