As winter approaches, you may be gearing up to use the fireplace if you live in a colder climate. To prevent chimney fires, make sure your fireplace is in great working condition before building a fire for the first time. Otherwise, fire-related incidents are a real risk. You may cause damage to your property and put your family in danger.

Tips to Prevent Chimney Fires

If you’re looking forward to nights spent relaxing by the fireplace, it’s important to take steps to prevent chimney fires. The following tips will help you prepare your fireplace for use and keep it from being a hazard.

Minimize Creosote Build-Up

As the number one culprit of chimney fires, creosote is a highly flammable substance that is a by-product of burning wood in the fireplace. Creosote buildup becomes a fire hazard when it isn’t properly removed from the chimney. Prevent chimney fires this winter by minimizing creosote buildup. One way to do this is to only burn seasoned hardwood. Also, keep the damper open when a fire is burning so that the fireplace and chimney maintain adequate airflow. This will also help reduce the amount of creosote that accumulates inside your chimney.

Prevent Chimney Fires by Hiring a Chimney Sweep

Your fireplace and your chimney are at risk from creosote buildup. Schedule yearly chimney cleanings to remove sticks and branches, animal nests, and creosote. A professional chimney sweep will sweep the firebox, smoke chamber, smoke shelf, and chimney.

Use a Chimney Cap

A chimney cap helps to keep animals and debris out of your chimney that might contribute to a chimney fire. Chimney caps are designed to eliminate a backdraft where escaped smoke re-enters your chimney and your home. Homeowners can find affordable chimney caps for $50 but may spend up to $500 for decorative models. When installing these caps, it’s best to trust a professional with the job.

Schedule Your Annual Chimney Inspection

Schedule a chimney inspection to help prevent chimney fires. During this inspection, a certified chimney technician will inspect your chimney, venting system, and fireplace. This expert will identify any damage, remove obstructions, and complete any repairs that are needed.

Use Recommended Fire Starters

Use the safest materials to start fires. Experts recommend using well-seasoned hardwood, firestarter logs, and kindling like dried branches or twigs. Do not use cloth, kerosene, or gasoline as these flammable materials create dangerous situations.

Properly Extinguish the Fire to Prevent Chimney Fires

Once you’re ready to turn in for the night, extinguish the fire by spreading the embers and wood out with a poker. After the ashes cool completely, shovel them into a metal container for safe disposal.

Use these tips to prevent chimney fires this winter and avoid unnecessary fire hazards.

Checkpoint Home Inspections offers home inspections in northwest Oregon. Contact us to request our services.