By this time in winter we all may just wonder how we managed to make it to the second month of 2020. Even in the thick of winter, we don’t often think of the day-to-day management of our fireplace, but this should actually be at the front of our mind. Whether you use your fireplace daily as a primary heat source, or you use your unit for secondary or zone heating, the proper use and management of your fire should be a top priority. Because safety is our top priority at Northwest Fireplace and Chimney, it’s our goal to educate homeowners in Porter, LaPorte, and Lake counties about chimney and fire safety.
Proper Use and Safety of the Fireplace
It doesn’t matter what fuels your fire—be it wood, gas, pellets, or even oil. Every fire uses the same three things in order to light and burn and they all produce harmful gases along with the heat we desire. In order to utilize your heat source while also maintaining the safety of your family and the value of your home, your fireplace, stove, or insert should be used correctly.
- Purchase from Professions: If your unit wasn’t purchased through a licensed dealer or built by an NFI or CSIA certified professional, it is important to have this unit checked out before using it even one more time. The dangers that exist when a unit is improperly installed are hidden dangers that can kill, including carbon monoxide exposure and extreme fire risk.
- Follow Manufacturer’s Guidelines: When you purchase your unit from a licensed dealer, you should get all the manufacturer manuals and guidelines so that you can properly use and maintain your unit. Read this literature before using your unit because the method for lighting a gas unit varies between models, pellet stoves work differently than wood ones, and some gas log sets need to be vented, and some don’t. Making a mistake with a fireplace unit can be a devastating and permanent mistake.
- Teach and Follow Fireplace Safety: All adults and children in the home should be aware of fire safety and only trusted adults should maintain the fireplace and manage the fire.
The Top Tips for Fire Safety from the American Red Cross are:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas
- Test smoke alarms monthly
- Plan a fire escape plan and practice it twice per year
- If a fire occurs in the home, get out, stay out, and call for help
In order to prevent burns, you should have the proper tools to manage your wood fireplace, insert, or stove. A long-handled shovel, poker, and brush allow for easy fire management while keeping your skin clear of burns. Many homeowners choose to wear leather gloves when cleaning out ashes or arrange the wood, and this is a great way to prevent accidental burns as well.
When small children are in the home, it’s important to prevent falls—not just into fireplaces, both wood, and gas, but also onto stoves that get extremely hot on the metal surface. Make sure the children in your home know how far to keep from your fire unit and install gates and screens where possible. In addition to screens, installing custom glass doors can prevent serious burns when a toddling child falls near the fire.
Preventing Flue Fires and Other Chimney Danger
Most all flue and chimney fires are preventable. In our line of business at Northwest Fireplace and Chimney, we strive to bring down the occurrence of residential fires that are preventable. Octavio De La Vega and our team of certified technicians agree with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and even the United States Environmental Protection Agency, who say that the safest and most efficient chimneys are those that are serviced regularly. In order for your chimney to work safely, it must be at its most efficient. This means deposits are removed and the flue is smooth to promote optimum airflow. It also means the system is venting properly and toxic gases are not pushing into your home. It means that the proper fuel is being burned and in the right amount to best utilize the capacity of the unit and the size of the flue.
In short, your chimney system must be efficient in order to be safe, and a safe chimney is an efficient one. If you are unable to invest the necessary costs of ongoing preventative maintenance or repairs into your fireplace, you can still have a safe fireplace by converting to a new, more efficient unit. The high-efficiency fireplaces of the industry’s top manufacturers are made with efficiency and convenience in mind. You can choose to install one of these units and see less creosote buildup, less maintenance and repair costs, and less danger.
Whether you wish to upgrade for safety or efficiency, or if you are unhappy with your old fireplace, Octavio De La Vega and the team of fireplace experts at Northwest Fireplace and Chimney can help. Don’t wait until winter is over to ensure your unit is in proper working order and your home and family are safe while using it. Call the experts today at 219-413-2349 or contact us online.