If you’ve used your fireplace for years without problems, you might think you’re doing everything right. But there are several common mistakes that homeowners often make that can bring problems.
If you’ve made any of the errors below with your fireplace, it’s okay! You’ll know what to do in the future so you can have years of trouble-free cozy fires.
Using Improper Firewood
Wood is wood, right? Wrong. The best burning wood is seasoned hardwood. This means wood that was cut, put in a pile, and allowed to dry. Seasoned hardwood has little moisture, so the fire makes less smoke and burns hotter.
You’ll have less creosote buildup in your chimney, which can lead to a chimney fire.
Storing Ashes Improperly
Appropriate fire practices don’t stop when your fire goes out. The way that you take out and store ashes is a vital part of using a fireplace correctly.
Your fire should go out on its own, and you should spread the ashes once in a while, so embers and coals don’t lie in the ash. The ashes should be taken out and put in an ash container made of metal. The box needs a lid, and it should sit on stone or bricks.
Don’t dump ashes in your trash or a dumpster. Check with your trash company to find out how to safely get rid of ashes in your community.
Using Lighter Fluid Or Gas
You might think it’s ok to use these flammable liquids to light a fire in the fireplace. However, you don’t know how high and fast the flames will go. Using lighter fluid or gas indoors is hazardous, so only light your fire with natural gas, propane, or kindling.
Not Warming Your Flue
Did you know that warming the flue can avoid draft problems? This is especially an issue when the temperature outside is much lower than inside. To heat your chimney, hold a lit newspaper under your opened damper for five minutes before you start the fire. This warms the flue air and avoids dangerous downdrafts.
Burning Other Things
Many people think it’s ok to burn other things in the fireplace: wrapping paper, cardboard, styrofoam, and various packing materials. You shouldn’t. Remember, your fireplace was designed to burn wood and nothing else.
You can release dangerous fumes into the air with other materials, and they can burn out of control and harm the chimney.
Note that you shouldn’t burn stained, pre-treated, or painted wood, either. These types of wood lead to creosote buildup.
Not Checking Your Detectors
Smoke detectors aren’t something to neglect. These devices save lives in case of an accidental fire. A carbon monoxide detector can also protect you from an invisible and deadly buildup up of gas in your home.
It’s recommended to have both types of alarms on every floor of the home. Test them every 180 days, and replace them every 10 years to ensure they meet modern safety standards.
Delaying Chimney Sweeping
If you use your fireplace regularly during winter, you need to have it swept and inspected annually. Paying for this ensures your fireplace and chimney are safe. If creosote builds up too much over time, it is hazardous and can lead to a devastating chimney fire.
Most homeowners love to use their fireplaces in chilly weather, and the burning mistakes above can affect performance and safety. So please keep these guidelines in mind so you and your loved ones can enjoy the cozy ambiance of your fireplace for the years ahead.