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How to Prepare Your Fireplace for Winter

2023-10-23 17:18


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  • Logs surrounded by flames inside of dark fireplace

    How to Prepare Your Fireplace for Winter

    Winter is coming, and with it, a significant drop in temperatures across the United States and Canada. So, what better way to warm up than to gather around the fireplace with a blanket and warm beverage? Like many household appliances, a fireplace requires maintenance and safety considerations to operate properly. So, how do you get your fireplace ready for the winter season? We’ve compiled some tips below to help ensure your fireplace is operated safely this winter.

    The Importance of Preparing Your Fireplace for Winter

    According to research by the National Fire Protection Association, in 2022, approximately one fifth of home fire heating equipment accidents were due to fireplaces. Not only do these accidents cause property damage, but they tend to follow a distinct seasonal pattern, with more fires occurring during the winter months than any other time. This is important, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates there are approximately 17.5 million fireplaces in the United States.

    Even those in southern states or warmer climates should follow the below tips. Remember, if your fireplace causes property damage, SERVPRO® is Here to Help®. Technicians across North America are prepared to respond 24/7 year-round to your fire damage emergency.

    Top Safety Tips for Fireplaces

    The EPA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise following these safety tips for burning wood in your fireplace:

    • Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby and handy.
    • Make sure items such as furniture, curtains, books, newspapers, and other flammable belongings are kept away from the fireplace.
    • If you choose to use artificial logs, use ones made from 100 percent compressed sawdust.
    • Build hot fires, as a smoldering fire is not considered safe or efficient.
    • Keep the glass door or fire screen in front of the fireplace closed unless you’re loading or stoking the fire. Otherwise, chemicals such as carbon monoxide may be released into your home.
    • Routinely remove ashes from the fireplace into a metal container with a cover. Remove this container from the area and store it outdoors on a non-flammable surface.
    • Make sure you have a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector installed near the fireplace.
    • The CDC recommends testing them on a monthly basis and changing batteries at least twice a year.

    Top Maintenance Tips for Fireplaces

    Oakland Community College outlines the following maintenance tips when using your fireplace:

    • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected before using the fireplace for the first time each year. An annual inspection by a licensed chimney specialist will help ensure soot and creosote that’s built up over the last year is removed. The chimney specialist can also look at the bricks to help ensure none are cracked, dislodged, or in need of replacement.
    • Have the gas pilot light inspected regularly.
    • Open the flue before use so the fire can vent adequately.

    Fireplaces: Common Questions and Answers

    You have questions, and SERVPRO has answers. Some common questions and answers about fireplace safety include the following:

    • Is it safe to sleep with a fireplace on?
    • What can I put in front of my fireplace for safety?
    • What shouldn’t I put in my fireplace?
      • According to the EPA, don’t burn the following items in your fireplace:
        • Household trash, such as cardboard, plastic, foam, boxes, wrappers, and/or ink from magazines.
        • Painted, coated, and/or pressure-treated wood.
        • Unseasoned (wet or green) wood.
        • Diseased, rotted, wet, and/or moldy wood.
        • Asbestos, manure, rubber.
        • Animal remains.
        • Particle board, plywood, ocean driftwood, and/or wood with glue on it.
          • Along these lines, remember that sawdust and wax logs are typically only used for open hearth fireplaces. Check your fireplace’s operating instructions before using artificial logs. 
    • Is it safe to start a fire with gasoline, kerosene, or a charcoal starter?
      • No. This can be very dangerous. You should only start a fire using organic methods, with newspaper, dry kindling, or organic fire starters.

    Does SERVPRO Clean After Fireplace Damage?

    Yes. In fact, SERVPRO cleans after any kind of fire damage, whether from a faulty fireplace, chimney accident, fire damage in the kitchen or workplace, or more. SERVPRO franchises follow a seven-step fire restoration process to get your home or business back up and running. These steps include:

    1. Emergency Contact. The first step of the fire damage restoration process is the emergency contact. During this step, you will reach out to your local SERVPRO franchise to describe the issue and damages. Additionally, a specialist will ask a series of questions to determine the appropriate equipment and personnel to dispatch.
    2. Inspection and Fire Damage Assessment. Upon arrival, SERVPRO technicians will assess the affected area, along with adjoining rooms. This helps establish the extent of fire, smoke, and soot damage, and helps technicians develop a plan of action.
    3. Immediate Board-up and Roof Tarp Service. If necessary, SERVPRO technicians will implement roof tarping and board-up services to help ensure your property is protected from the elements, vandals, animals, and illegal entry. This will assist with the cleanup and restoration process, as the security of your property is just as important as getting it back up and running.  
    4. Water Removal and Drying. If water is present, SERVPRO technicians will use extractors and dehumidifiers to begin the water removal and drying process as soon as possible.
    5. Removal of Smoke and Soot from All Surfaces. The fifth step involves using specific techniques and specialized equipment to remove smoke and soot from walls, ceilings, floors, and other surfaces.
    6. Cleaning and Sanitizing. This step involves potentially packing and relocating affected items, such as electronics, art, and other documents through restoration. If relocating is not required, salvageable items will be remediated.
    7. Repairs and Reconstruction. The final step of SERVPRO’s fire damage restoration process involves any last needs being serviced. This could involve minor repairs or significant reconstruction of partial or entire rooms.

    For Round-the-Clock Availability, Reach out to SERVPRO

    When fireplaces wreak havoc on your home or business, your local SERVPRO franchise is available 24/7 to assist with your cleanup and restoration needs. From minor fireplace damage in a single room to major losses requiring significant reconstruction services, rely on SERVPRO to get the job done and help return your property to pre-loss condition.

    SERVPRO is available 24/7, and technicians undertake each job with elite equipment and over five decades of experience across the system. Since 1967, SERVPRO has prided itself on providing prompt, courteous, and efficient responses to both residential and commercial cleanup, restoration, and construction jobs across North America. We look forward to serving you and helping to make it “Like it never even happened.” Find your local SERVPRO today and give us a call. We are available 24/7, year-round.

    For more information, please visit our FAQ and Glossary.


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