Most of the United States is experiencing their first bout of winter weather from freezing temperatures to heavy snow fall. Unfortunately, it isn’t even officially winter yet and the bad news is that we all will have at least 6 more months of this weather! According to the U.S. Fire Administration, heating was the second leading cause of all residential building fires after cooking fires. Fires that were confined to chimneys, flues or fuel burners accounted for 87% of residential building heating fires. The winter months are the peak time for residential heating fires. During the winter, it is important to heat your home safely. One of the ways to add extra heat to your home is via a fireplace, but it is crucial to follow safety tips when cleaning and then, using the fireplace. Fireplaces and chimneys need to have regular maintenance and care to make sure that the fireplace is working correctly. Creosote, a flammable tarlike substance that accumulates in a chimney and flue, needs to be removed by a professional at least once a year. Creosote is extremely combustible and can cause a chimney fire that can damage the chimney and could lead to a fire in the entire home. The Chimney Safety Institute of America has a certification process for chimney cleaners and sweeps and you can find a certified professional via their website.
AKE Safety Equipment wants to keep your home and family safe the entire year. Remember to always have smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside every bedroom.
To keep the chimney and fireplace safe and clean, steps should be taken before you use the fireplace for the season.
- It is important to keep all accessories and parts of the fireplace clean and in good working order throughout the fire burning season.
- Make sure that the firebox, or the area that contains the fire is clean before the first use. Use vacuum attachments to remove all traces of ash from older fires from the firebox. Scrub the walls of the firebox with a stiff-bristle brush (non-wire).
- If you fire screen is made of metal or brass, clean this similar as you would for brass objects.
- For glass fire screens, clean the glass facing the fire after every other fire to remove the residue and soot. For soot that has baked on to the glass surface, very carefully remove the soot with a glass scraper.
To keep your family and home fire safe when using a fireplace, there are some easy tips to follow:
- Keep the area in front of the fireplace clear of any paper or debris.
- Use seasoned hardwood for your fire. This wood should have been split at least 6 months prior to use. “Newer” wood develops more creosote.
- Do not throw trash, wrapping paper, boxes or other materials into a fireplace.
- Keep the area near the top of the chimney clear of tree branches and leaves.
- Do not over-pack your fire box. Burn wood in smaller piles and replace often.
- Ashes from the fire should be completely cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance from the outside of your home.