Fireplaces are one of the most sought-after features homeowners are looking for,  but using one can be a little intimidating. Here is a  quick guide to get you and your fire started this season. 

HOW DO I USE A WOOD-BURNING FIREPLACE?

Get your chimney inspected.  Safety is your 1st priority.  Having your fireplace and chimney inspected by a licensed professional is something you should do every year. 

Clean out any old ashes with a broom.  Check that the damper is open and working properly.

Use seasoned hardwood that has been split and dried for at least 6 months. Seasoned hardwood logs should be dark and cracked at the ends. To construct a long-lasting fire, place a rolled-up ball of newspaper beneath the grates, then lay pieces of narrow, finely split wood in a crisscross pattern on the grates.

Prime the flue.  this step heats up the cold air inside the flue so you don’t get a backup of smoke.  Before you light the fire, light a tightly rolled-up sheet of newspaper, and hold it toward the open damper, hold it there until you see the smoke going up the flue. 

Light it up!!!  You are now ready to light the fire and enjoy!

ARE FIREPLACES EFFICIENT???

Wood-burning fireplaces, with all their old-fashioned charm, are a wasteful way to heat a home.  Heat rises upward, most of it escapes through the chimney.  Fireplaces located against an outside wall lose even more heat.  Solution?? Only use wood-burning fireplaces for special occasions.  

Gas fireplaces are more efficient, and the newest models are realistic enough to make you forget that you don’t own any firewood. 

ARE FIREPLACES SAFE???

Fire is the very definition of unsafe.  You have to maintain it and practice common sense. 

Keep flammable materials away from the fireplace, and store firewood well away from the house. 

Use a metal or mesh screen when the fire is lit, to keep embers from flying out.

Before lighting the first fire of the season, test your smoke detectors and review your family’s evacuation plan.

Continue to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly.

Wood-burning fireplaces produce smoke that can irritate or even damage your lungs, even with a properly functioning chimney.  To keep smoke from filling your home, ensure the damper is open, your home is ventilated, and the chimney has been inspected and cleared of obstructions. 

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CLEAN MY CHIMNEY???

A buildup of soot and creosote is more than unsightly: It can reduce airflow, cause smoke to back up and even create a fire risk.  To avoid a chimney fire, have your fireplace and chimney inspected annually by a licensed professional.  To clean the inside of a fireplace, put on a dust mask, sweep out the ashes, and scrub the surfaces with a brush and dishwashing liquid.

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