How to ensure a fireplace is safe, inside and out
In one of our last columns, we talked about the proper way to clean your fireplace. In this article, we will deal with how to make sure your fireplace is safe.
So, how do you keep your fireplace safe? The best tools you have are your eyes.
With regular visual inspections both inside your home and out, you’ll make sure your fireplace is in good shape for the burning season.
Checking from the outside
• Examine the chimney to make sure a chimney cap is present and in good repair. The metal cap keeps animals, rain, and snow out of the chimney, while acting as a spark arrester that prevents hot embers from landing on your roof.
• If you have a multi-story home or a steep roof, play it safe and use a pair of binoculars to check the chimney cap from the ground.
While you’re at it, make sure:
• There’s no bird’s nest or buildup of debris on the cap.
• There are no tree limbs above or near the chimney.
• The mortar and bricks on the chimney aren’t crumbling or missing.
• The chimney rises at least 2 feet above where it exits the roof.
• The chimney crown — the sloping cement shoulders at the top of the chimney — is beveled, which helps air flow.
• The flue liner is visible above the chimney crown.
• The chimney is plumb and not leaning to one side or the other.
• The roof flashing is tight against the chimney. If you spot anything amiss, call a licensed chimney professional or mason to remedy the problem. For pricey jobs, make sure to get a second estimate.
Looking inside your home
• With a flashlight, inspect the flue damper to make sure it opens, closes and seals properly.
• Experts agree that if the damper doesn’t seal well, you’ll lose a tremendous amount of heat from the home when the fireplace isn’t in use.
• With the damper open, check the flue for combustible material such as animal nests or other foreign objects. You should be able to see daylight at the top.
• Inspect the fireplace surround, hearth and firebox to make sure there are no cracked bricks or missing mortar. Damage inside the firebox is serious — have a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.
• Also, check for obvious signs of moisture inside the firebox, which could mean a faulty cap.
• Everyone enjoy gas fireplaces because they’re low-maintenance — but that doesn’t mean they’re no-maintenance. Be sure to follow these tips:
• Inspect the glass doors for cracks or latch issues.
• Check that gas logs are in the proper position.
• Turn gas off at the shutoff valve and test the igniter.
• Ignite the fire and look for clogged burner holes.
• If present, turn off gas and clear obstructions with a pin or needle.
This article was provided by the Warren Area Board of Realtors.