For many families, winter months mean sitting around their wood-burning fireplace and enjoying the warmth and comfort of a crackling fire while roasting marshmallows and spending quality time with one another. But, as many of us know, a fireplace and chimney can be fire hazards if not properly used and cared for. As an insurance adjuster in Minnesota, we have helped countless homeowners whose houses have sustained damage as a result of a chimney fire, so here are a few tips on how to make sure yours is as safe to use as possible.
- At least once a year, preferably either right before or right after winter, have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned. Every time you have a fire in your fireplace, creosote forms. Creosote is a black and sticky flammable substance that needs to be cleaned off on a regular basis to ensure it doesn’t ignite and cause a fire.
- Make sure you only burn wood that is dry and cured. This means the logs need to have been split, stacked and dried for at least 8 to 12 months. You should make sure the log pile has a cover on top of it, but leave the sides open to allow for air to properly flow through.
- In your fireplace, make sure the only thing you are burning is wood. Do not burn lumber scraps, construction scraps, painted wood or other pieces of treated wood. These types of wood could release harmful chemicals into your home, and it could affect the indoor air quality at your house. You can use starter logs to start the fire if you need to, but just be sure to use only one of them at a time since they burn very hot.
- When you don’t have a fire going in your fireplace, make sure you close the damper to keep the warm air from getting out. And when you are burning a fire in your fireplace, make sure you keep the glass doors open to allow the heat of the fire to get into the room.
- Make sure you have a cap on top of your chimney that is in good working order. The cap will help keep animals from nesting in your chimney (which is a fire hazard in and of itself), and they also help reduce downdrafts. A professional chimney sweep can check your cap as a part of your annual inspection and they can install a new one if need be.
For more information on how to hire an insurance adjuster in Minnesota, call Norcia Insurance Consultants at 866-512-LOSS (5677), or you can contact us to set up your Free Consultation.