Is Your Old House Fireplace Safe To Use?

Old house aficionados often purchase their own vintage structure. They love the artistry and character often found in older homes. Houses with fireplaces are always alluring, too. Comfort can be found sitting around a cozy fire. Unfortunately, fireplaces in old houses are rarely safe to operate. If you have recently purchased an old home and can't wait to start a fire this winter, you need to make sure it is safe to do so first. Here is what you need to know.

Get a Chimney Inspection

Chimney fires are all too common, and that nice cozy fire you're dreaming of could leave you in a pile of ashes. Chimneys in older homes are rarely built to the codes in place today. A through chimney and fireplace inspection is absolutely imperative before you light your first fire. The chimney liner may be nonexistent, insufficient, or have cracks. The brick or stones may be missing mortar. Chances are, a chimney inspection is going to reveal your chimney will require repairs. You may even need a complete chimney restoration.

Have Your Chimney Cleaned

Creosote is a byproduct from burning wood. This thick, tar-like substance lines the walls of the chimney and fills any cracks in the structure. It is highly flammable, and a buildup of creosote is a common cause of chimney fires.

In addition to creosote buildup, a chimney that has not been used in a long time likely has wildlife present. Birds and squirrels often build their nests in a chimney. Bats will roost. Even raccoons will sometimes set up shop inside a chimney.

Your chimney needs to be cleaned at least once a year. It should be done more often if you frequently use the fireplace or if the chimney is used for heating purposes, such as with a cast iron wood stove.

Get Your Chimney Capped

An old home is unlikely to have a chimney cap. This is a wire mesh hood that goes over the top of the chimney. It prevents critters from getting inside your chimney. Of course, you want to first make sure no animals are currently living in your chimney. You don't want animals trapped with the only way out coming through your fireplace and into your home.

Use the Right Firewood

Once your fireplace has been repaired or restored, cleaned, and capped, you should only burn seasoned hardwood in your fireplace. Soft woods, such as pine, and green would that hasn't been properly dried prevent a fire hazard from the extra creosote and sparks they produce. For more information, contact your local masonry company, such as Sposato Masonry