Winter time is when a lot of people will use their fireplace to help warm up the house. A fireplace can be economical and produce a fair amount of heat. Other people like it as well. I know when I go out of my house and smell someone using a fireplace in the area I get that "Ah someone has their fireplace going" feeling and think about how relaxing it is to sit in front of a nice fire in the fireplace. However the fireplace does need to be maintained and used properly to prevent fires and other issues.
- Always use a screen guard. The screen will keep some of those popping embers from making it out away from the fireplace
- If you have glass doors on the fireplace have them open as closed smothers the fire and creates extra creosote in the chimney
- Have the chimney inspected each year for cleanliness and animals that may have nested. They do make caps to help keep them from getting in yet let the smoke get out. If the smoke can't get out then the carbon monoxide from the fire can't get out which can be life threatening. There are around 4000 deaths a year from carbon monoxide poisoning and a majority of these are from poorly vented fireplaces or fireplaces with the vents or flues closed.
- Use only dry wood and not wet wood. Wet wood makes considerably more smoke.
- Never assume the fire is out. Coals can remain hot or smoldering along for days
- Keep a window cracked just a little for ventilation.
- ALWAYS make sure the flue is open
- Make sure you have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home. People will start a fire but then go elsewhere throughout the house and this is a warning system something is wrong and is for your safety. SAFETY FIRST!
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and where everyone knows where it is
Be safe with your fireplace. It is a nice thing to have and with a few simple precautions will be trouble free and safe to use. Just like so many things being careful can help prevent accidents. Stay warm and be safe.