Fireplace Safety Starts with Cleaning
Maintaining a clean fireplace and chimney is important to enjoy a fire safely. Fireplace safety is reduced when there is creosote stuck to the inside of the chimney. When enough of this tar-like residue builds up, it can combust and start a chimney fire. Bring in a chimney inspection specialist to thoroughly evaluate the condition of your chimney. They will identify any defects or concerns and let you know if anything should be repaired. Hire a chimney sweep to clear creosote, soot, and ash from the chimney, which will reduce the risk of a fire starting due to buildup. Your next step for fireplace safety is to clean the firebox throughout the season and reduce the amount of ash that collects. Prepare the immediate area around your fireplace by putting down a tarp to avoid getting your floor dirty. Use a fireplace brush and shovel to carefully sweep out the firebox. A shop vacuum with a bag installed is the best way to clean the remaining ash so that it doesn’t blow around your living space. The doors to the fireplace should also be cleaned at this time. A mixture of vinegar and water is great at removing stuck-on soot. Do not clean the firebox unless you know for certain that all embers are fully extinguished.
Additional Preparation and Tips for Your Fireplace
- Don’t use any firewood that hasn’t been seasoned for 6 months or more. Burning green wood causes more smoke, which leads to faster creosote build-up in the chimney that you just had cleaned.
- Prepare the room that the fireplace is located in. Place a fire-resistant rug in front of the hearth to catch stray sparks without damaging or posing a fire hazard to the home.
- Don’t place any tapestries or other flammable items anywhere near the fireplace.
- Open up the damper whenever you are preparing to light a fire and leave it open the entire time the fire is burning.