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Chimney Safety Tips

Are you hoping your home’s wood-burning fireplace will help cut your heating bill this winter? Your wood-burning fireplace can make your home cozy and inviting, as long as you use it safely. Fireplaces and chimneys cause 42 percent of all home-heating fires. Keep these tips in mind to safely enjoy your fireplace this winter.

  1. Have your chimney professionally cleaned each fall. Hire a professional chimney sweeping company to clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney in the fall, before you start using your fireplace. This will prevent frightening chimney fires from creosote buildup and can catch damage in your chimney before it becomes a major problem.
  2. Cap your chimney. A properly fitted chimney cap with wire mesh sides helps keep rain, animals, and debris from entering your chimney while letting smoke escape. Replace it promptly if your chimney sweep notices that it’s damaged during their annual visit.
  3. Burn dry, seasoned hardwood. Make sure to use firewood that has been split and stored in a dry place for at least six months. Many nurseries and hardware stores sell dry, ready-to-burn firewood that will burn well.
  4. Don’t overfill the fireplace. Make sure to keep your fires to a manageable size for your fireplace. A fire that is too large can cause cracks in the fireplace or chimney. Place the logs on the metal grate and toward the back of the fireplace. If you’re fire is struggling to start, add kindling such as twigs or newspaper instead of lighter fluid.
  5. Use the mesh curtain to keep sparks inside. Most fireplaces have a metal mesh curtain you can pull across to keep burning-hot sparks from flying into your living room without blocking the heat you want. It can also serve as a reminder to children to keep their distance from the fireplace. And make sure to close the door on the fireplace when you’re done using it for the night.

Winter will be back here in Chicagoland before we know it. Wood-burning fireplaces are an appealing feature of many homes in our area, and with these tips, you’ll make sure to stay warm and safe all winter long.


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