If you're like my wife, you like having a crackling fire in the fireplace while you're watching a movie on a cold winter's night. There's definitely something alluring about having a fireplace in your home. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association's (HPBA) 2011 statistics, fireplace ranks second among the top features buyers seek in a home. Additionally, approximately 80% of American homes have a fireplace, hearth or pellet stove. I'll admit, a fireplace was one of the features we searched for when looking at homes.
Any homeowner with a fireplace knows that desire for a crackling fire also requires a lifetime commitment to make sure that fireplace is in proper working order. And if you didn't know, here are the basics of preventative wood burning fireplace maintenance, according to the HPBA.
- Have the chimney inspected annually, and cleaned when necessary, by a professional chimney sweep.
- Install a chimney cap on top of the stack to help ensure that debris or animals don't block the flue.
- Install working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and have a fire extinguisher.
Additional precautions should be taken when you use the fireplace:
- Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of potentially flammable objects and materials.
- Clean out the ashes from your previous fire, and store them in a non-combustible container until you can properly dispose of them.
- Make sure you use a fireplace grate, keep the glass doors open while the fire is burning, but keep the fire screen closed.
- Build a safe and right-sized fire and use fireplace tools to tend to it.
- Don't leave a fire unattended and don't close the damper until the embers are completely burned out.
Gas fireplaces have a whole different set of recommendations, which you can find here.
No matter the type of hearth your home has, it's important to properly maintain it, because a malfunctioning fireplace can be damaging to your home. Your safety is important to us. And if you're in the market for insurance, check out what The Russell Agency has to offer.