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A fireplace can be a charming feature for any Des Moines home — they contribute greatly to the ambiance of a room, and they make it feel cozier. While many homeowners love the idea of a fireplace, it also comes with some responsibilities. If you own a home (or are planning to buy a home) with a fireplace, it’s important to know the proper maintenance it requires and ensure it’s used safely. Here are some important tips all homeowners with a fireplace should know:
Use Only Firewood
To start, we need to remember that the fireplace is different than an outdoor campfire. The fireplace isn’t a place to get dispose of scraps. Wood that’s been painted or treated can release chemicals into your home while burning, so use only wood meant for the fireplace. Starter logs are generally fine, and one is likely all you’ll need each time you use it. When selecting wood for burning, make sure you use cured firewood that has been split and dried for at least 8 months.
Make Sure You Have a Chimney Cap
If you want to prevent debris, rain, and assorted critters from falling into your chimney and fireplace, a chimney cap is absolutely necessary. They cover the chimney tightly and are fitted with vents on the sides to allow smoke to escape. Chimney caps also work to prevent downdrafts, which can be both unpleasant and can cost you money on your heating bills. If you’re not sure if you have a chimney cap and don’t know how to verify, a local chimney sweep will be able to help you check.
Ensure Your Damper Works
Fireplace owners also need to know that their damper is functioning correctly. Test to see that it opens and closes easily. A damper that isn’t sealed properly can cause heat loss in the winter, which we all want to avoid. Just like with the chimney cap, if you’re not sure or you have any concerns, a professional can help you get everything working properly.
Your chimney needs to be cleaned regularly. The frequency of cleanings will be dependent on how often you use the fireplace and the age of your home. Generally, a professional cleaning twice a year will help you keep everything in tip-top shape and protect the safety of your home.
Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Until you’re sure it’s perfectly safe, you won’t be able to truly enjoy your fireplace. It’s imperative to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors nearby and test them regularly to know they’re in working order. These simple steps can prevent major problems and allow the entire family to rest easy.
There’s nothing quite like a fireplace on fall and winter nights, and if you follow these tips, it can be a source of enjoyment for years to come.
If you’d like a recommendation for a local chimney professional, or if there’s something else I can be of assistance with, please get in touch. I’m happy to help in any way I can.