1. Get an annual chimney inspection. Have your chimneys inspected and swept if
needed. If the chimney (fireplace & furnace/water heater/flue) is clean and free
of obstructions, there is less danger of a chimney fire or carbon monoxide
2. Free and Clear. Make sure that the top of the chimney is free and clear of tree
branches, ivy, or overhanging branches.
3. Cap it. Have a chimney cap installed on all of the flues. New chimney caps are
usually constructed of stainless steel and do not rust. They keep out rain, birds,
raccoons, squirrels, leaves and other debris that could obstruct the flow of flue
gasses in your chimney.
4. The right fuel for the job. Well seasoned hard wood yields the most Btu’s
(heat) for your fireplace or wood stove. Wood that has been split and stacked for
6 months out of the rain will be dry enough. Do not burn Christmas trees,
pressure treated or painted scrap lumber in your fireplace or wood stove.
5. Liquid free light. Do not use any type of liquid fire starters (lighter fluid,
charcoal grill lighter, gasoline, etc.) to start the fire. Only use fire starters
specifically designed for fireplaces and wood stoves. Besides the inherent danger
of out of control flames inside the home, some of these accelerants can leave
residues that may ignite inside the flue (chimney fire).
6. Keep it clear. Keep all furniture and combustible furnishings at least 36 inches
away from the fireplace or wood stove. Exposure to heat can lower the ignition
temperature of combustible items over time, and they can catch fire.
7. Screens or doors. Have a fireplace screen or set of glass doors with a screen in
front of your fireplace during operation. Flying sparks from sappy wood can burn
holes in your carpet or furniture. Remember, if you have glass doors, they must
be open during the operation of your fireplace, do not close them if a fire is
burning. The glass is not rated for those temperatures and the fire will be starved
for oxygen and may smoke up the home.
8. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are a must. Some of the
newer units will detect both smoke and carbon monoxide, but both types should
be installed through out the home. Optimum placement is on the ceiling because
that is where the smoke and carbon monoxide will be. Plug in units are
convenient but near the floor is not ideal.
9. Treat your fire like a toddler, watch them. Tumbling logs off the grate can
knock over a fireplace screen and start a house fire. Do not leave them
10. Pick the right company. Do your homework on the company you choose to
inspect and sweep your fireplace/ furnace flues. What kind of certifications and
training do they have? What do on line services like Angie’s List and the
Consumer’s Checkbook say? Ask your friends about their favorite companies.