Most homes look and feel cozier when they have a fireplace, especially one that works and is occasionally used by homeowners. But even such an attractive device can be dangerous if it is not managed correctly or safely. If you’ve recently purchased a home that has a fireplace, find and read the maintenance guidelines to make sure your fireplace remains a source of pleasure rather than pain.

When taking over your home, ask the previous owner about the state of the fireplace. Find out if it was used and, if so, how often. Ask if there were any problems with the fireplace and if it ever needed or received any type of repair. It would also be a good idea to ask if there was a problem with a fire that started in the chimney or if the carbon monoxide levels were checked. Once you have this information, you will have a better idea of ​​what needs to be done.

Have the chimney inspected. Even if the chimney was confirmed by previous owners to be in good working order, an annual check is recommended to make sure the flue continues to function and that the creosote has not accumulated to dangerous levels. Also, small animals like birds, squirrels, and bats can build nests in the fireplace at any time, and severe weather can come at an unexpected cost, so an annual inspection is a good idea.

Learn how to light, maintain, and extinguish fireplace flames. Have the necessary supplies on hand, such as firewood and a lighter. Do not burn any type of material in the fireplace, as some, such as aerosol cans, can explode while others can release toxic substances.

Have the right equipment on hand. You will need to put up a screen to prevent sparks from falling to the floor or nearby furniture. A poker will allow you to stir the embers to check for embers. You will need a shovel and a small dustpan to remove the ashes, as well as a container for firewood. Don’t forget to have a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it. Teach family members what to do in case the flame gets out of control. Install a carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector in the room to detect initial levels of troublesome gases or fumes. Without the necessary items, you could risk the fire spreading into the room.

Never leave a fireplace flame unattended. Someone must stay in the room or come and go frequently to control its burning. Otherwise, if a problem occurs, it could spread rapidly without proper supervision. Make sure the fire is out before leaving the house or going to bed. Do not close the fireplace until the fire is completely out, or the house could fill with smoke or carbon monoxide.

A fire in your home is a beautiful sight, but it is important to learn how to care for it properly. Get the necessary guidelines and equipment before burning logs in your home fireplace.

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