Winter weather is in full swing in Indianapolis, and the holidays are upon us. Chimneys have been puffing smoke on the horizon for weeks now, and families are using their fireplaces as a backdrop for countless festivities and family photos. During this holiday season, we at The Mad Hatter want our customers in Indianapolis and surrounding area to not only have a joyful holiday experience, but also a safe one.
- Make sure your chimney is clean and in working condition. Don’t forget your regular chimney sweep and annual inspection. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends this routine maintenance in order to have your safest and most efficient chimney possible. A dirty or damaged chimney raises the risk of fire substantially. Debris in the flue can obstruct the draft and lower efficiency, which raises fire risk. Also, damage to the chimney system can lower efficiency as well as allow heat and harmful gases to escape into the house.
- Burn only properly seasoned wood. Wood is filled with moisture that keeps the tree alive while it’s standing but is detrimental to your fire’s heat. It also increases the amount of debris left in the chimney, because moist wood doesn’t burn completely. Make sure your wood is working for you by letting it dry adequately before it’s used. Wood should be cut and set aside to dry for at least six months, longer for harder woods. When the wood is dry it should pale in color, pull away from the bark, crack at the edges, and feel lighter in weight. You can also look for these signs in wood that you buy.
- Learn how to build the best fire. You can try the tradition fire with kindling on bottom, but there is a better method that is more efficient and easier to light. The top-down burn is an upside-down fire where the larger wood is on bottom and the kindling is on top. This way the fire burns more completely and efficiently, because the ash, cinders, and flame fall onto the other fuel as it burns.
- Practice safe burning habits. You should NEVER light your fire with any kind of starter fluid or liquid fuel. These products are unpredictable and can damage your firebox and chimney components as well as cause you injury. Also you should never leave a fire alone while burning, or leave children unattended near the fire. You can also invest in tools to assist you in safely maintaining your fire while it burns. Don’t forget to buy tools and accessories that feel right to you. Tools should have long handles and be a comfortable weight for you to use.
These are just a few of the many ways you can keep the holidays safe. You can even talk to a professional about installing safety measures, such as glass doors or screens to your fireplace. A certified chimney sweep from The Mad Hatter is available to discuss your best and safest chimney with you today.
Call 317.596.0200 or request an appointment online.