23 Feb 2012

Is your fireplace ready for winter

Posted by bcsands

Our cool summer may all too soon give way to an even cooler autumn, so it’s time to ensure that your chimney and fireplace are clean and safe so that you are ready to light a fire whenever you want.

Is your chimney clean?

Whatever type of fire you have a build up of products from the smoke and soot of your fireplace can cause a fire risk in your chimney or flue. A spark flying up the chimney can all too easily ignite these flammable substances.

There are other risks that you might not be able to see, such as bird’s nests or leaves and sticks, even if you have a chimney cap. Chimney fires can quickly turn into house fires, so before lighting a fire in your fireplace, you need to makes sure the chimney is clean.

Chimney cleaning is a dangerous job that needs specialised tools, not to mention the need to climb on the roof. It’s best to engage a professional to do this for you. An experienced chimney sweep will also inspect your chimney for general safety – looking for cracks or any other flaws that you might not be able to see. Often they use a small camera to do this so that they can inspect the whole chimney from top to bottom.

Clean out your fireplace or stove

Hopefully you cleaned out your fireplace or stove after your last fire at the end of the last cold season, but it’s worthwhile giving it another pre-fire once-over to make sure that it’s clear of fluff and dust that might cause unexpected sparks when you are lighting it for the first time. Many people use their fireplace or stove to display dried flowers or pot pourri in summer and when you take these out, please make sure that you remove any traces of leaves or petals.

While you’re doing this, give your fireplace a general inspection and make sure that the damper opens and closes easily. Set up your fire tools nearby and bring in some firewood so you don’t have to go outside in the dark on the first cold night of the year.

Keep your fireplace clean and safe

•    Use hardwoods like ironbark, rather than softwoods like pine, which tend to cause sparks
•    Minimise smoke, and the build up of by-products in your chimney, by using well-seasoned wood
•    Avoid fire risks in the home by closing the door of your stove or using a firescreen
•    Don’t keep flammable objects in front or close to your fire
•    Never burn anything other than wood in your fire – for example, never burn plastic, wrapping or any type of packaging
•    Never burn wood from unknown sources, such as old railway sleepers or decking  – this type of wood may contain flammable substances or be treated in a way that might release dangerous fumes when burned
•    Use a purpose-made product such as a SmartBurn to help your fire burn cleaner

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