FAQ for First Time Fireplace Users
By Doug Hetsch
December 7, 2019
When you buy a home with a fireplace, there are several responsibilities you must take for the safety of your family. If you have never lived in a house with
a fireplace before, you may be a bit nervous about lighting that first fire in your new home. Although it may seem overwhelming at the moment, you will soon find that operating your fireplace consists of simple routines that include fire safety practices. To help you get started, All American Chimney Service would like to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions we have heard from our first-time fireplace using customers over the years. Since 2006, we have provided the top choice for professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation services, and we have helped many people be able to enjoy warm and cozy fires all winter long. Your safety is our number one priority, which is why we want to answer these questions for you.
What kind of maintenance does my fireplace need?
The answer to this question depends on the type of fuel your fireplace uses. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you will have more things to take care of when you light a fire. This routine includes bringing firewood inside from your outside storage, removing ashes from the firebox, and sweeping up ashes from the floor in front of your fireplace. You will also have to have your chimney professionally inspected once a year to remove the check for defects and venting issues that can cause issues. Getting the fireplace swept is necessary (as needed, depending on the frequency of use). Creosote deposits accumulate on the inner walls of the chimney over the winter and it develops naturally during the combustion process of burning wood. But this residue is so highly flammable that theChimney Safety Institute of America(CSIA) has named it as a leading cause of chimney fires. However, your risk is greatly reduced when you have your chimney professionally inspected and swept.
Gas fireplaces do not require as much upkeep, but you will need to clean the glass fireplace doors to remove soot stains. Even though you will not have as much creosote being produced with a gas fireplace and chimney system, All American Chimney Service still recommends that you have it professionally serviced to make sure that there is no damage present that could cause problems in the venting system and gas logs themselves. A gas fireplace is typically more convenient to use, and we also provide gas fireplace insert installation services if you would like to convert your existing wood-burning fireplace.
How do I know that my fireplace is safe to use?
Before you purchase a home with a chimney and fireplace system, you should contact All American Chimney Service to schedule an appointment for our Level 2 chimney inspection services. A few decades ago, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) developed three levels of professional chimney inspections as part of their Code 211, the standard for chimneys, fireplaces, vents, and solid fuel-burning appliances. These levels ensure that chimney professionals follow the same guidelines when inspecting chimneys in different situations. You can trust us to make sure that your chimney and fireplace system are properly inspected so that you can have the peace of mind knowing that it has been thoroughly inspected by a chimney professional.
What kind of firewood should I use?
All American Chimney Service strongly recommends that you only use seasoned firewood in your fireplace. This type of wood has been allowed to dry for at least six months after it was cut. When you try to burn wet wood, the energy of the fire is wasted burning away the moisture inside the firewood. Not only does this result in a low amount of heat being provided to your home, but it also produces more smoke and creosote. Seasoned firewood will give you warmer, longer-lasting, and cleaner burning fires.
What is the best way to build a fire?
Although you may have learned to build a fire with the smallest kindling pieces at the bottom of the woodpile, the CSIA actually recommends that you do the opposite to build a fire that will burn easily with less smoke. Known as the “top-down burn,” this build begins by placing your largest logs on the bottom with the ends going from the front to the back. After you have set the base, you will layer about four to five more rows on the top, using smaller pieces of wood for each level. Once you have reached the halfway height of your firebox, you will begin to place layers of kindling on top of your stack. You will then take a single match to light the very top of the kindling, which will ignite the lower levels as the fire burns.
How do I keep my fireplace safe during the holiday season?
When you first saw the fireplace in your new home, you probably immediately pictured it decorated for the holidays with stockings hanging from the mantle. However, All American Chimney Service wants you to know that you should never light a fire in your fireplace if you have holiday stockings hanging in front of it. Find an alternate location for your stockings when using your fireplace to avoid an accidental fire. Keep other decorations, including your Christmas tree, at least six feet away from your fireplace area as well. You also want to remember to never burn trash in your fireplace. Holiday wrapping paper can be especially dangerous to burn because the dyes can lead to flash fires that can quickly become out of control.
Our team at All American Chimney Service hopes that your first-time fireplace questions have been answered, but if you still have any questions or concerns, pleasecontact usat our office today. Since 2006, we have been proud to serve the Louisville area, and we are here for all of your professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation needs.