The warm days and cool nights that fall brings to southwestern Maryland, and the Capitol Corridor is a welcome respite after a warm summer. But with lows already dipping into the ’40s in some areas, many homeowners are already lighting their fireplaces and wood stoves in the evenings. Our weather is going to get even colder with the possibility of freezing temperatures arriving as early as Thanksgiving, according to the monthly weather forecast.
Chimney Inspection and Cleaning
When was the last time you had a professional chimney inspection and cleaning? If it has been more than 12 months, scheduling a qualified chimney sweep should be a top priority. A professional chimney inspection assesses its condition and recommends necessary repairs to ensure that it is safe to use your fireplace or heating stove. The technician will also advise the homeowner if there are excessive amounts of creosote deposits and recommend if cleaning is necessary before use. An inspection will also uncover any damages or obstructions that may expose your home and occupants to a higher risk of fire or carbon monoxide.
Repair or Replace Chimney Cap
The chimney cap plays a vital role in protecting your chimney. First, it covers the exposed flue to allow the venting of smoke and fumes while preventing pests, leaves, twigs, and other debris from obstructing the vent. Second, it helps prevent water from intruding into the flue during periods of rain and snow. Third, it prevents hot embers and sparks from flying out of the flue and onto the roof, where it can be a fire hazard. And finally, the chimney cap minimizes downdrafts, which can force smoke, soot, and carbon monoxide into your living space. A broken or missing chimney cap increases the risk of water leaks and fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. It should be replaced with a cap that contains a wire mesh screen and spark arrestor. For even greater protection, ask your chimney professional about a chase cover.
Install a Glass Fireplace Door
A glass fireplace door contains sparks and embers inside the fireplace, so they don’t fly out and stain or ignite nearby flooring and furniture. They are not only attractive, but they also help radiate the heat in your living space. You will have a beautiful view of the flames without the safety risk. It’s a must for any home with small children or pets.
Only Burn Seasoned Firewood
Don’t be tempted to burn fresh or “green” wood in your fireplace. The problem with green wood is that the moisture produces lots of smoke. It also creates more creosote, which is a fire hazard in excessive amounts. Only burn wood that has been seasoned (dried) for at least six months. And, of course, never burn Christmas trees or any hazardous materials in your fireplace or heating stove.
Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon monoxide (CO2) is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that is also known as the “silent killer.” National fire and health safety experts strongly encourage all homeowners using solid or liquid fuel heating appliances to install a carbon monoxide detector. The CO2 detector is the only way you may be able to tell if deadly CO2 gas is leaking inside your home. If the CO2 detector sounds an alert, immediately open windows and doors to bring fresh air into your home. Turn off all heating appliances and contact your chimney professional. If anyone in your home is complaining of nausea, headaches, or dizziness, immediately dial 9-1-1.
Don’t Leave a Fire Unattended
It may be tempting to leave your fireplace warming your home when you go out for a quick bite or go to bed. But a sudden downdraft, excessive creosote, hot embers, and other problems can occur at any time that increases the risk of fire. Always extinguish the fire before leaving your home or retiring to bed.