If you have a fireplace designed by a company like Alpine Fireplaces in your home that you use for heat, then you are likely getting ready to start using it as the weather starts to turn cold. However, you should not start using your fireplace without doing a few things first. This is essential to make sure your fireplace both works properly and safely. Keep reading to find out what you need to do before starting your first fire that will help to prevent chimney fire incidents.
Clean the Chimney
The chimney attached to your fireplace allows smoke and other gases to release into the air. As your fire first starts to burn, this smoke brings tar fog, minerals, and uncombusted wood particles with it. The solid particles that move upwards through the cold chimney stick to the sides of the smoke stack. This creates a ematerial called creosote that can start on fire if a spark or a hot coal comes into contact with it. A chimney fire can then start that can damage your chimney and your home.
To prevent a chimney fire, make sure to clean the chimney before you start your first fire of the year. You can hire a chimney sweep to clean it for you. If you decide to do this, then consider looking for a professional through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). This organization will help to connect you with a certified chimney sweep.
If you decide to try and clean the chimney yourself, then purchase a chimney brush and a brush rod at your local home store. You will need to first measure the diameter of the chimney. Measure the diameter of the pre-fabricated metal chimney pipe or consider the dimensions of the masonry flue. This can be done inside the home. Purchase the right sized metal wire brush for a masonry chimney and a polypropylene one for a metal chimney. Also, buy either nylon or fiberglass extension rods that attach to the brush.
Connect the brush to the rods and climb onto your roof with the assistance of a ladder. Remove the rain cap from the chimney and push the brush down into the opening. Move the brush up and down along the length of the chimney several times to release debris. You will see soot and creosote coming out of the chimney top as you complete the cleaning.
Replace the Chimney Cap
If you removed the chimney cap when cleaning the chimney, then you should think about replacing the cap before the heating season begins. This is especially true if the cap is worn in any way or if the device does not fully cover the chimney opening. The chimney cap prevents rain and snow from falling into the chimney. It also keeps birds from building nests inside and it keeps leaves, twigs, and other flammable items from falling into the chimney. This is extremely important, because a slight spark can ignite some of these materials and cause the creosote to start on fire as well.
There are a wide variety of chimney caps you can invest in, but the best kinds have a solid top with angled or rounded sides to keep snow and other solid materials from building on top. Also, caps should be made from aluminum materials so that there is a reduced risk of deterioration from rust. For a masonry chimney, your cap should contain wire mesh on the sides and a solid metal cap on top. These devices usually secure to the chimney with the assistance of screws or clamps.
If you have a metal chimney, then purchase a rounded cap with a wide top and small slits along the side. Most of these chimneys will be fitted with double-walled chimney pipe on the top. These pipes will come with tapered edges so that chimney pipe sections can be attached to one another. These same tapers will attach to the cap. Just make sure that you purchase a cap that fits the diameter of the double-walled chimney pipe and twist it in place.
While the chimney cap does not need to be replaced every year, you should make sure to inspect the cap for signs of damage and replace it when there is a need.