How to Safely Start Using an Old Fireplace
It’s been a surprisingly cold winter for many people across the country, with temperatures dipping as much as 20 degrees lower than average. With a massive Alaskan ridge and a cooperating jet stream, winter weather could linger into early spring in some areas. Many homeowners will be relaxing near the fireplace to stay warm. However, some homes have an old fireplace that hasn’t been lit in years. Envious of the puffs of smoke emanating from your neighbors’ fireplace, you may be wondering how to start using an old fireplace safely.
How do you know if your old fireplace is safe? The most important thing to do is to schedule a level 2 chimney inspection with a Certified Chimney Sweep®. It’s the most efficient method for assessing its current condition and any repairs that may be necessary for it to be safe for use. A level 2 inspection is a detailed examination of the entire chimney and fireplace structure. The technician will also conduct a video scan of the interior and flue liner. The chimney sweep will climb to the roof to inspect the flashing and clear any obstructions that are blocking the flue opening. During a level 2 inspection, the technician will examine the accessible areas. Based on the findings, a level 3 inspection may be necessary to remove specific components and enter inaccessible areas to determine the source of a problem.
Make Necessary Chimney Repairs
The chimney sweep will provide you with a list of repairs that will be necessary to render it safe for use. If the chimney has been out of service for several years without regular cleanings, it will need a thorough and professional cleaning. You may also need to replace the chimney cap, make flue liner repairs, and some tuckpointing to fix any spalling bricks. It’s vital to make timely repairs. A chimney that is not structurally sound is in danger of collapsing, causing extensive damage to your roof and home.
Install a Fireplace Insert
Your fireplace may also need some renovation. Another option to consider is a fireplace insert. They fit directly inside an existing fireplace but are significantly more energy-efficient and less polluting than a traditional fireplace. A vented wood-burning fireplace insert directs the smoke and fumes through your existing flue. Inserts are also easier to clean and maintain. Fireplace inserts are also available in gas and pellet, giving homeowners a choice of fuel options regardless of their current fuel source.
Light the Fireplace
Once your chimney sweep gives your chimney the all clear, it is time to light the fireplace. The best firewood to use is wood that has been seasoned for at least six months.
Seasoned firewood has a low moisture content. Without the excess moisture, your fires will burn hotter and will last longer. It will also burn more efficiently with less smoke and creosote.
Remember to have your chimney inspected and cleaned every year. It will keep your family safe and help avoid costly repairs.