It can be a joyful experience to sit around a fireplace or wood stove with family, friends, or your pet pooch during the holidays.
Starting a wood-burning fire in your home comes with certain risks. Maintenance and preparation will go a long way towards keeping your family safe.
Consider the following tips when starting up your wood-burning appliance for the first time this season.
1. Keep up with chimney cleaning.
At least twice a year, the chimney for your fireplace or wood stove should be cleaned. An experienced chimney sweep can safely clear ash and creosote.
Creosote is a chemical mass of carbon that forms when wood is burned. Creosote is combustible and toxic. It can restrict the airflow of your chimney and can cause a chimney fire if allowed to build up. Sweeping out the chimney is an important safety measure to reduce this risk. You should also avoid burning cardboard, trash, or green wood in your fireplace as this contributes to creosote build up.
A chimney sweep will do a visual inspection of the chimney and check to ensure that the chimney lining is not deteriorating.
Make annual reminders for yourself to get this chimney cleaning done. It is also wise to keep a record of who cleaned your chimney and when.
2. Prepare your home and family with safety equipment and awareness.
It is important to keep a Class A fire extinguisher on hand when you are operating wood-burning fires in your home.
Teach your children about fire safety. Ensure that young children are not left unattended around the fireplace or wood stove. A safety screen can be installed around the fireplace to keep children and pets safe from the heat.
The same goes for your home décor! Keep the area around your fireplace free of flammable materials like furniture. Wood supplies for the fire should be kept at a safe distance from the wood-burning appliance. Your local fire department is the best resource for fire safety resources. See the City of Mississauga’s Fire Safety portal for residents here.
You should also test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Smoke alarms should be installed on each storey of your home and outside each bedroom, along with at least one carbon monoxide detector.
3. Practice good fire management.
To manage a fire, you should have a fire poker, kindling, paper, and dry wood. Do not use flammable liquids to start your fire.
Make sure that your damper is open and start the fire with one or two logs. Watch your fire as it burns. When you are ready to leave the fire for the night, spread out the remaining embers with your fire poker to let them cool. Leave the damper open until the ashes have fully cooled.
Do not leave the house or room until the fire is completely out. The following day, it should be safe to remove the ashes and store them at a safe distance from anything that could catch fire.
With proper maintenance and preparation, your family can stay safe and enjoy a wood-burning appliance all winter long!
Call us here at Applewood if you have questions about your complete home comfort! We can be reached toll-free at 1-800-487-7307.