As the weather gets a bit cooler here in Charleston, you may want to ignite that fire place for some added warmth. Don’t!  First follow these simple safety tips that will ensure a warm, cozy and safe fire!

  1. Hire a chimney sweep. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be swept at least once a year when the weather gets cooler to remove soot and debris. Find a certified sweep in your area via the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
  2. Check for damage. In addition to cleaning, a chimney sweep should inspect the chimney structure for cracks, loose bricks, or missing mortar. Chimney liners should also be checked for cracking or deterioration.
  3. Cap the chimney. A cap fitted with wire-mesh sides covers the top of the chimney and keeps rain, birds, squirrels, and debris from entering. Replace or repair a cap that’s missing or damaged. I find that chimney caps need replacing quite frequently.
  4. Burn seasoned hardwoods. Choose dense wood, such as oak, that’s been split and stored in a high and dry place for at least six months. Green wood and resinous softwoods like pine produce more creosote, a flammable by-product of combustion that can build up in the chimney.
  5. Don’t overload. Small fires generate less smoke, thus less creosote buildup. Also, a fire that’s too large or too hot can crack the chimney.
  6. Build it right. Everyone seems to have their own fool proof way to build a fire. However, this is a simple rule of thumb….place logs at the rear of the fireplace on a metal grate. Use kindling, rather than flammable liquids, to start the fire.
  7. Use a spark guard. Prevent errant embers from shooting out of the firebox with a mesh metal screen or glass fireplace doors. A guard in front of an open flame is especially important when the room is unoccupied.

With the holidays upon us, a fire adds a nice warm touch to your home. Make sure you follow these safety tips!