Preparing for Winter: Maintain Your Gas or Wood Fireplace
|Make a habit of checking fireplaces as part of your regular home winterizing procedure.|
Don't risk your family's safety by using a poorly maintained fireplace. Both gas- and wood-burning fireplaces should be inspected before their first use each winter. Make a habit of checking fireplaces as part of your regular home winterizing procedure. Savvy homeowners can handle part of the regular maintenance but some jobs need to be done by a professional.
A buildup of creosote in the chimney can start a dangerous chimney fire by throwing sparks onto the roof of your home and into overhanging trees. With the right equipment handy homeowners can remove creosote themselves, but hiring a professional chimney sweep may be easier than climbing on the roof to perform such a messy job. Call a professional to inspect gaskets and seals if your wood-burning fireplace includes an airtight front appliance. Excess air entry can cause permanent damage to your firebox. If a visual inspection reveals damage on the interior or exterior of your fireplace it's time to call a pro.
Maintenance jobs a homeowner can complete include:
*A visual inspection of the chimney, looking for loose or cracked bricks or cracked mortar between bricks which can indicate interior damage
*Clear the exhaust pipe or chimney of birds/rodents and install a chimney screen to prevent reentry
*Inspect the damper and make sure it opens/closes correctly
*Indoors, clean the blower if your fireplace has one
*Change batteries in smoke detectors and check them for service
|Hiring a professional chimney sweep may be easier than climbing on the roof to perform such a messy job.|
While there's less concern about a buildup of unburned fuel in the chimney of a gas-burning fireplace there are other safety concerns to consider. A leaky or poorly ventilated gas fireplace will emit carbon monoxide into your home. Have your gas fireplace serviced by a qualified technician once a year. A complete inspection includes cleaning to appliances airways, checking valves for leaks and cleaning the blower and filter system for models with a blower. Homeowners can keep their system safe and functioning properly by:
*Perform a visual inspection of exterior and interior chimney looking for damage or debris
*Clear the exhaust pipe and install or replace a chimney screen
*Replacing batteries in remote transmitters/receivers
*Install or check carbon monoxide detectors
|Don't risk your family's safety by using a poorly maintained fireplace.|
During the holiday season it's tempting to adorn the hearth and mantel of your fireplace with decorations, but make sure combustible materials are kept at least three feet away from a working fireplace. Limit the amount of paper or paper products you burn in your fireplace and if you use newspapers for starting fires remove the colored comic section first; some of the colored inks release toxins when burned. And as cozy as it is, avoid building a "roaring" fire. Tossing in too many logs at a time may start a bigger fire than you intended.
For more home tips, please visit homechanneltv.com.
Sources: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-prep-your-roof-and-gutters-for-winter.seriesId-335363.html, http://www.msue.msu.edu/objects/content_revision/download.cfm/revision_id.499670/workspace_id.-4/01500595.html/, http://www.houselogic.com/news/fireplaces-chimneys/tips-how-prepare-your-fireplace-season/#.