With temperatures dropping, many families look forward to gathering in front of the fireplace. Without proper safety and usage, however, a cozy night in front of a fire can turn into a disaster. Use these tips to keep your fireplace safe.

Burn the Right Kind of Wood

Use firewood that has been seasoned for at least 6 months and has less than 20% moisture content. Purchase a firewood moisture meter at a home supply store and check the moisture content of your wood before burning it.

A wood’s moisture content is a determining factor in how much creosote will form in your chimney. A buildup of creosote in your chimney is a fire hazard. Don’t start a fire with moldy, wet, diseased, or rotten wood. Hardwoods are much better to burn in your fireplace than softwoods.

Keep Your Fireplace Safe with a Chimney Cap

A chimney cap helps keep animals, leaves, and debris out of the chimney. It also helps prevent embers from escaping and causing a fire outside your home. Once a year, thoroughly inspect your chimney cap and repair or replace it if needed. Trim tree branches so that they aren’t hanging over the chimney.

Tips for Burning a Fire Safely

Open the damper before you start a fire and keep it open until the fire is out completely. Another way to keep your fireplace safe is to close the fireplace barrier whenever you’re burning a fire.

Scoop the Ashes to Keep the Fireplace Safe

Ashes from a recent fire can remain hot for up to three days. Make sure the ashes are cool before removing them from your fireplace. Close the damper and open a window before scooping the ashes. Use a shovel to scoop the ashes into a metal container. Store the container away from combustible substances and materials. Leave about an inch-deep layer of ashes at the bottom of the firebox, but no more.

Burn Appropriate Materials

To keep your fireplace safe, it’s important to burn the right materials. You should only burn seasoned hardwoods. Don’t burn foam containers, cardboard boxes, packing materials, or wrapping paper in your fireplace because they release toxic chemicals.

Get It Inspected Regularly

To keep your fireplace safe, you must get your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly. It is recommended that you get your chimney inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep once a year or after approximately 80 fires.

Using these tips will help you keep your fireplace safe. When you properly maintain and use your fireplace, you’ll rest assured knowing that you are taking the right steps to protect your family and your property from fireplace incidents all winter long.

Cal Home Inspection serves Sacramento and the surrounding areas with home inspection servicesContact us to discuss your inspection needs to book an appointment.