As the temperatures drop and we spend more time indoors, it is the perfect time to ensure your chimney is in good working order. A build-up of soot and creosote can cause a fire, so cleaning your chimney each year is important. Here are a few tips to help you prevent a chimney fire in your home this winter.

1. Inspect Your Chimney

Inspect the chimney at least once a year, ideally before you start using it for the season. Look for cracks or damage that could allow sparks to escape, and make sure the flue is free of obstructions. Check for rust or spots where the metal is thinning if you have a metal chimney. If you have a brick chimney, look for cracks or loose mortar.

2. Prevent a Fire by Cleaning the Chimney Annually

Creosote is a flammable byproduct of burning wood in your fireplace that accumulates in the chimney over time. When embers float up, the creosote may ignite and cause a chimney fire. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, clean your chimney regularly to prevent a build-up of soot and creosote. If you build fires regularly in the colder months, have the chimney cleaned at least once a year by a professional.

3. Use the Right Type of Firewood

When burning wood in your fireplace, select only dry hardwoods seasoned for at least six months. Freshly cut wood produces more smoke and creates more soot and creosote build-up in your chimney.

4. Don’t Overload the Fireplace

When starting a fire, don’t overload the fireplace with fuel. A small fire is easier to control and produces less smoke.

5. Keep a Close Eye on the Flames to Prevent a Chimney Fire

Once you’ve started a fire, never leave the flames unattended. Keep an eye on it at all times, and before going to bed, make sure the ashes are cool and there are no embers still burning.

6. Use a Screen or Gate

To prevent sparks from escaping, use a screen or gate in front of your fireplace when enjoying a fire. The barrier will also help keep young children and pets safe from the flames.

7. To Prevent a Chimney Fire, Don’t Burn Garbage

Never burn garbage in the fireplace, including mail and cardboard boxes. These materials produce dangerous fumes and are light enough that burning pieces might float up the chimney and start a fire in the flue or on the roof.

The Importance of Testing Smoke Detectors

While taking measures to prevent fires in our homes is essential, it’s also vital to have working smoke detectors. Test your devices monthly and replace the batteries twice each year. When cleaning the house, vacuum the detectors to remove any dust that accumulates on the sensors.

Follow these tips to enjoy a safe and cozy winter in your home!

Marked Improvement Home Inspection provides inspection services in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Contact us to schedule an appointment.