Don’t you love your wood burning fireplace on a cold blustery winter day? But are you aware that it may need some TLC? Before you settle in to using it while everyone’s home for Christmas vacation, here are a few tips:

  • When using a wood burning fireplace, make sure the wood you’re using is cured and not green. The wood should be at least 6 months to a year with a year being optimal. Cured wood will burn cleaner (less creosote build up) and hotter.
  • Use only firewood and not leftover crate material e.g pallets. When you burn wood material other than firewood, you never know where the material came from and if there may be carcinogens embedded into the wood (preservatives). You may choose to use a starter log–these are fine if you only use one as they tend to burn hotter than wood.
  • When it’s time to go to bed, never leave a fire burning until it is completely out and stopped smoldering. If you have fire resistant glass doors you may close them if it is not too hot. This will prevent any heat loss from the room due to an open damper. In the morning, check to make sure the fire is completely out and cold, then you may close the damper and close the glass doors.
  • If you don’t have a mesh screen, make sure you have one installed and it is pulled closed when the fireplace is in use to prevent any sparks from leaving the fireplace.
  • Have a chimney specialist inspect the inside of the flue to insure creosote is not building up. One of the most common causes of starting a fire inside of the flue is creosote build up. Creosote does not go away on its own. It will create a build up, potentially causing a bottleneck and possibly a chimney fire. Here is an article about what creosote is and why it is dangerous.
  • Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. There are obvious reasons to have these installed and working properly.
  • Have your chimney cleaned at least once per year. This routine maintenance will insure you have a properly working fireplace damper, chimney, and chimney cap. The chimney cap will prevent a downdraft and prevent objects from entering and falling down the chimney, including any birds or animals.

Now sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the warmth and glow of your fireplace.