In our Fox Valley region, the colors are turning, the days are shorter, and the nights are cooler. An evening walk lets us know that our neighbors are firing up their fireplaces. While wood burning fireplaces are less popular, there is no doubt that the ambiance of a crackling fire is still preferred. If you have a wood burning fireplace in your residence, here are some tips to keep your home and family safe this season by avoiding fire and smoke damage.

  1. Make sure your chimney flue is open and unblocked. A good idea is to burn a few pages of newspaper to warm the flue and make sure air flows properly. Doing this before you light your fire will keep smoke from backing up into your living space which would cause smoke damage from your fireplace.
  2. Never use lighter fluid, gasoline or any other accelerant.  When lighting your fire use newspaper, kindling.
  3. Avoid using fresh cut wood which will contain moisture and could lead to more smoke and deposits building up on the inside of the chimney. Wood should be seasoned and dry. Also avoid using woods heavy with resins such as pine. This could lead to a build up of creosote over time. Creosote is highly flammable, and if left to build up it can burn hot and crack your chimney all of which could lead to smoke damage and increased risk of a fire in your home.
  4. Burn a couple of logs at a time. You want a slow, steady burn with logs at the back of the fire box to prevent fire, ashes, and sparks from finding their way out of the hearth.
  5. Only burn wood.  Burning wrapping paper, or other materials such as evergreen wreaths or garland materials can flare up and get out of control quickly.
  6. Open the fireplace doors and use the fireplace screen.  The doors are meant to keep drafts out when not using your fireplace and can shatter if exposed to too much heat. Fireplace screens can help keep embers inside the firebox.
  7. Don’t leave fire unattended.
  8. Keep the area around the hearth clear and clean. Do not position your Christmas tree near the fireplace and don’t hang stockings, drape your mantel with garlands, or hang cards around the fireplace.
  9. Clean the firebox between fires. Have the chimney cleaned yearly. Creosote buildup can ignite and cause a dangerous chimney fire. By doing this you can better prevent the risk of fire in your home.
  10. Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
  11. When shutting down your fire, leave the flue open until the fire is out and cool. Remove cool ashes in a metal container before closing flue and air intakes to keep the indoor heat from escaping up the chimney.

If you should have an incident where smoke and soot belches back into your living space, call Restoration 1 of Fox Valley to remediate the smoke damage caused from your fireplace. Smoke and soot are toxic and should be addressed immediately.