Fireplace safety

There is something homey about a wood burning fireplace, especially in the first frosty days of the fall. But before the fireplace is lit, it needs to be inspected and cleaned.

Here are 5 important safety reminders for you.

  • Clean out nests and leaves. Birds or squirrels may have built a nest, or it could be blocked with leaves or even a critter’s body.
  • Look for cracks. This is not really a do-it-yourself project, but it is important to maintain the integrity of both the firebox and the chimney.
  • Check for creosote. This flammable build-up in the chimney can be hard to see or clean. Hiring a sweep may be required, especially if the home has just been purchased. Who knows when the previous owner last had it done?
  • Be careful of chemical cleaners. Some general cleaning products are flammable, so use just those made for chimney and fireplace cleaning.
  • Test the damper. Good airflow is critical to the safe use of a fireplace, and it keeps smoke out of the house.

The U.S. Fire Administration has produced several videos on how to inspect a fireplace and basic maintenance.