Chris Mabee: Use Your Fireplace Safely This Winter

Monday, December 12, 2016 - by Chris Mabee, president of Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga
Your home’s fireplace can provide a cozy gathering spot for your family during the cold months ahead in the Chattanooga region, but it’s important to follow a few guidelines to ensure everyone remains safe. 

Wood Burning Fireplaces
To maintain your fireplace, use a chimney cleaning professional at least once every five years (two years if you use it frequently).  If you are in a newer home with a fresh air vent to supply the fireplace with combustion air, open it and the damper before you start a fire.
Then remember to close both when you are not using the fireplace so warm air will not escape in the winter and cool air will not escape in the summer. 

A wood-burning fireplace should be equipped with andirons (or a grate) and a well-fitting screen. Build fires atop the andirons or grate—not directly on the fireplace floor. Seasoned hardwood is the best fuel. Do not burn pine logs in your fireplace; they contain a tar that can start a fire in the chimney if it accumulates. Never use kerosene, gasoline, charcoal lighter fluid, or other highly flammable liquids to start a fire. 

Gas Fireplaces
Gas fireplaces may have a chimney or may vent exhaust gases (mainly water vapor and carbon dioxide) directly outside without a chimney. Others are ventless; there is no flue. If your gas fireplace is vented, the flue or vent should be closed when the fireplace is not in use. Use the same safety precautions with a gas fireplace that you would with any other gas appliance. 

There will be a slight delay after turning the switch on before a flame ignites. Flames should ignite gently and silently. If you notice any deviation from this or any gas smell, immediately shut off the switch and report the problem to the gas company. 

For more home maintenance and safety advice, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at 423 624-9992.



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