With autumn in full swing and temperatures dropping, you likely look forward to putting your fireplace to use. A warm fire can make your home feel cozy, but before usage, you need to ensure the fireplace is prepared and without potential hazards.
You can perform your own inspection of the fireplace before you boot it up this season. But you should schedule a professional chimney inspection at least once a year too. Read on to find three ways you can make sure your fireplace is safe to use this fall.
Look for Physical Damage to Your Fireplace
If your fireplace has sustained damage, the fire within the grate might not be controlled. It could pose a serious risk to your home and the people who reside there. You can check for signs of physical problems during a visual inspection of the fireplace that you can conduct yourself.
A crack, gap, or worn-down area within the interior of the fireplace will point to structural concerns that could create a fire hazard. If you ignore these issues, heat from a fire could make these damages worse, requiring more extensive and costly repairs.
Use a flashlight during this inspection for a better view of the inside of your fireplace. You should look slightly up the flue as well and check for signs of dark stains. This could point to a ventilation concern, meaning that smoke is not exiting your home properly.
Then you could risk breathing problems and smoke damage to your belongings. Make sure you care for your fireplace regularly too to ensure it stays clean and functions to the best of its ability.
Check Out the Outside of Your Chimney
The chimney allows smoke to leave your home safely and effectively. If your chimney suffers structural damage, then smoke could re-enter your home and create health or property problems.
You might not be able to access your roof to get a clear look at your chimney. This is why you should call your local chimney expert for an inspection at least once per year.
If you can see your chimney though, look for signs of blockages from tree branches, bird nests, or other debris. Crumbling bricks or misaligned chimney caps could also point to structural issues within the chimney that will require repairs. Do not use your fireplace if you notice these problems with your chimney.
Schedule Your Annual Chimney Cleaning
Even a perfectly functioning chimney will develop creosote build-up when you use your fireplace. Burning wood produces smoke that leaves a residue that can accrue in the flue of the chimney. Creosote is flammable, so if it remains in the flue, the heat from a fire can put it at risk of igniting and causing an emergency.
You will need a professional chimney sweep to thoroughly clean your chimney at least once each year to get rid of creosote before it hurts your home. They use effective tools and brushes to make sure creosote and other potential threats to the structure of the chimney are removed effectively.