While relying on a professional is important, you can carry out some tasks yourself.
In autumn, before you use your fireplace or wood stove for the first time, inspect the inside of your chimney with a small hand mirror. Make sure there are no birds’ nests nor that anything has become loose. You should likewise check that the bricks and the mortar joints are in good condition. Is the door still airtight? Has any rust appeared? These are signs that you need to carry out more extensive repairs.
- When you are ready to build your first fire of the season, make sure the area is free of any object that could be a tripping hazard. The room must be well ventilated.
- Moreover, before you light the logs, open the damper to ensure good air circulation. Don’t close the door as soon as the wood starts to burn as inadequate airflow can increase the risk of an accidental house fire and generate toxic smoke.
- Use newspaper, kindling, followed by a few dry logs. Avoid damp or resinous wood, coloured flyers, plastic, household waste, cardboard and liquid or gel accelerants.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and set a fire extinguisher nearby. Be sure you understand how to operate it.
- Don’t forget that ashes stay hot for up to three days. If you still want to clear them away immediately, remove them with a metal shovel and place them in a metal container with a metal lid. Store them away from the house or any flammable object and wait several days before emptying the ashes into a trash or compost bin.