OER fireplaces, especially wood-burning stoves, are a great way to heat your home in winter, without having to spend a lot on electricity. However, before you get excited about taking your fireplace out of its summer retirement, you need to not only make sure it is ready to go but also safe as well. Statistics show that chimneys and fireplaces have been involved in about 42% of heating-related house fires. Therefore, it is vital that you know exactly how to safely start your fire in order to prevent this from happening. So, here are our top tips on how to prepare your fireplace for winter use:
- Get the chimney swept. If you are using a wood burning stove with a chimney, then you definitely need to get your chimney swept before you use your fire for the first time. In fact, it is recommended that you do this at least once a year, in order to make sure that any soot or debris is removed.
- Look for abnormalities. While your professional chimney sweeper is over sorting out your chimney, let them know if you have noticed any abnormalities about your fireplaces, such as a new draft or an odd smell.
- Check for damage. Next thing to do is check for any damage to the chimney lining and structure – such as deterioration, cracks, loose bricks, or missing mortar. If there are any parts missing from your fire, we have a wide range of stoves spares for a wide range of stoves.
- Inspect the Gasket Material. Take a close look at the gasket which seals the door, the glass in the door and the ash dump and replace them if necessary. If any of these are not working properly, then it can cause an over-fire condition due to too much oxygen.
- Clean the Blower. If your fireplace has a blower (to draw in cool room air through a vented panel) then you need to keep on top of this. Most blowers do not have a filter and so it is important to keep on top of cleaning it in order to prevent build up.
- Inspect the Damper. The damper is the valve which regulates the air flow within the chimney, and you need to make sure that this is working properly as well.
- Cap the Chimney. Having a cap on your chimney is essential to keep out rain, leaves, birds, and squirrels. If your chimney cap is damaged or missing then it is very important to replace it.
- Check your Alarms. Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure they are working, and replace any batteries that have run out.
Now that you have made sure your fireplace is safe to use, here is how to safely operate it:
- Pick the Right Firewood. Make sure you only burn dense seasoned wood such as Oak which has been split and stored in the dry for at least six months. If you choose to burn softwoods or green wood such as pine, then these will produce more creosote which can build up in your chimney.
- Prepare the Firewood Correctly. If you are cutting your own firewood then you need to make sure you split it into the right size pieces for your fireplace, and no more than 6 inches in diameter to make sure they burn properly. The wood should then be stacked off the ground and split-side down and covered so that it is kept out of the rain. Hardwood should be stored for at least 12 months, while softwood should be stored for at least 6 months.
- Test the moisture levels. You can buy moisture level meters which will allow you to test the moisture of your firewood. You are looking for a level of 20% or less to ensure the wood is properly dry.
- Use just enough Wood. It can be tempting to pile the wood high in your fire in order to create a cracking flame, but if you put too much wood in your fireplace you run the risk of cracking the chimney lining.
- Build it Right. To safely build a fire you need to place the logs towards the rear of the fire on a metal grate, and use kindling to light it (not flammable liquids). Make sure there is plenty of space between the logs and use plenty of air.
If you are ready to turn your central heating off this winter and enjoy a fire instead, then you’ve come to the right place. We have a wide range of electric, gas and solid fuel fires for you to choose from. A wide range of gas, electric and solid fuel fires