How To Prepare Your Fireplace For WinterPosted 11/03/2015
As temperatures finally cool off, Arizonans can breathe easy knowing the next six or seven months of weather in the beautiful Sonoran Desert will border on perfection. Of course, the desert is known for its chilly nights, too, which can provide the perfect opportunity to grab a cup of cocoa, throw a couple of logs on the fire and cozy up with the family.
But before you fire up the chimney this season, here are few fireplace tips to keep you safe and maximize your comfort all winter long:
Clean the fireplace: Whether your fireplace is wood or gas burning, it’s extremely important to get it inspected and cleaned before you begin using it each year. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends getting your chimney cleaned and inspected annually to prevent buildup of hazardous soot and debris. But be sure to hire a certified chimney inspector. They’ll not only clean your fireplace properly but also check for gas leaks (gas chimneys), and structural and lining damage, which can lead to house fires and poor-quality air buildup.
Use quality wood: Beware of firewood that is green or comes from resinous tree species, like pine, which can be prone to combustion. Stick to dense firewood, like maple and oak, that has been split and stored in a dry place for at least six months. These types of wood also have higher energy content, enabling them to produce more heat and burn longer.
Build the fire properly: For starters, never use flammable liquids or paper as igniters. Both can be unpredictable. Instead, use kindling like dry twigs or sticks. When constructing the fire, be sure to place the wood on a grate toward the back of the fireplace and avoid building it too large, which can generate a lot of smoke and heat, and crack your chimney.
Screen in the fire: A fireplace should always have a fire screen or metal curtain in front of the fire to keep sparks and fallen wood pieces from landing on your carpet, furniture or anything else nearby. Just having a metal curtain isn’t enough, though. Make sure the screen covers the entire opening of your fireplace or debris could find its way through and cause serious damage to your home.
Prepare for the unexpected: Fires are naturally unpredictable. And, while you can take all the necessary precautions, there is still a risk when a fire is lit in your home. So, make sure your smoke detectors have working batteries and have your fire extinguisher inspected by a professional. Once you are finished with the fire, make sure it’s fully extinguished before leaving your home or going to bed. Never leave a fire unattended.
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