As the weather gets colder and we start using our fireplaces, it’s important to make sure that our chimneys are in good working order. A fireplace is a cozy addition to any home, but a fireplace that isn’t properly maintained can be dangerous. Here are four tips to help you prevent chimney fires in your home.

1. Prevent Chimney Fires: Clean the Chimney

One of the best ways to prevent a chimney fire is to have your chimney cleaned regularly. A build-up of soot and creosote on the chimney walls is one of the leading causes of fires. Creosote is a flammable material that accumulates as a by-product of burning wood in the fireplace. Having your chimney cleaned by a professional at least once a year will remove creosote, leaves, and animal nests from the flue and help reduce the fire risk.

2. Inspect the Chimney

In addition to having your chimney cleaned, you should inspect it regularly for damage. Look for cracks or loose bricks and ensure the mortar between the bricks is in good condition. If you notice problems, make repairs as soon as possible. It’s best to hire a professional to handle these repairs, as the high heat of the chimney requires a heat-resistant mortar.

3. Prevent Chimney Fires: Choose the Best Firewood

Burning seasoned hardwood in your fireplace also helps reduce the risk of a chimney fire. Seasoned wood is wood that has been cut and allowed to dry for at least six months. Wet or freshly cut “green” wood produces more smoke and creosote than seasoned wood. It’s best to use firewood with a low moisture content to limit creosote and because it burns more efficiently. Purchase a moisture meter and check your wood before using it in your fireplace. Ideally, the firewood will have a moisture content of 20% or less for cleaner burning.

4. Test Your Smoke Detectors

Before building a fire this season, check the smoke detectors throughout your home to verify they are working. If the alarm doesn’t sound, replace the batteries. Check the expiration date on each device. You should replace the detector itself after ten years of service.

Following these tips can help prevent a chimney fire in your home. Remember to have your chimney cleaned regularly, inspect it for damage, and use only seasoned hardwood in your fireplace. Taking these precautions will help keep you and your family safe this winter.

Homesmith Home Inspections provides inspections to home buyers and sellers in the Houston, Texas area. Contact us to schedule our services.