With winter quickly approaching, it’s time to think about how to keep your home warm and cozy. And while a fireplace can be a great source of heat, it can also be a fire hazard if not used properly. Taking precautions when using your fireplace or wood stove this winter is necessary. Here are some tips to prevent a chimney fire and ensure your house stays safe and warm.

Inspect the Chimney to Prevent a Fire

Have the chimney inspected at least once per year to ensure no cracks or blockages could cause a house fire. A professional will examine the bricks, mortar, and flue, looking for cracks, gaps, or other issues.

Clean the Fireplace and Chimney

When burning wood, creosote will build up inside the chimney’s flue over time. This buildup is flammable and could be dangerous if not removed regularly. Make sure to clean the chimney annually and clean the fireplace after each use. A professional chimney sweep has the right tools and safety equipment to clean the chimney and remove leaves, twigs, animal nests, and creosote.

Use the Right Firewood

Knowing what kind of wood to use in your fireplace or wood-burning stove can reduce the risk of a chimney fire. Only use seasoned hardwoods such as oak, beech, hickory, and maple for best results. Avoid softwoods like pine and fir because they burn quickly and leave a lot of soot and creosote behind.

When building a fire, allow for plenty of air circulation; this will reduce the smoke produced, contributing to creosote buildup inside the chimney flue.

Prevent Fire: Install a Chimney Cap

To prevent a chimney fire, install a cap on the top of the chimney. Chimney caps provide several benefits that reduce the fire risk and keep your home safe. The cap prevents debris and animals from entering the flue and protects against water damage by keeping rainwater out. Additionally, a cap reduces downdrafts in the chimney, resulting in fewer occurrences of smoke blowing back into your living spaces. The chimney cap will also stop embers that float up from landing on the shingles and starting a fire. Hire a certified chimney technician to install a chimney cap.

In addition to these tips, installing smoke alarms throughout your home is essential to detect fires quickly before they spread. Taking these precautions will help keep your family safe while enjoying the benefits of a warm fire in your home.

Drew Inspection Service offers home inspections to customers in South Dakota. If you’re buying or selling a home, contact us to request our services.