Before you fire it up, make sure your fireplace is safe

By: Lizz Marrs Email
By: Lizz Marrs Email

It's getting cold out, and that means your fireplace will soon be getting put to work.

But there are some important steps to take before you light that first fire to avoid catching your house on fire.

Cindie Vaughn of Fireplace West says any object in your chimney may be bad news. 'If they got a bird in there, and it built a nest it's gonna cause problems so you definitely want to have it cleaned before you build that first fire," she says.

Vaughn suggests that you get your chimney professionally cleaned once a year. A cleaning at her business costs somewhere between $95-$105 but she says a good sweep should clean everything out, including a dangerous build-up of creosote. It also makes sure your flue is open.

Grand Junction Fire Department Spokesman Mike Page agrees that creosote build up is a problem. He also says fireplaces aren't intended to replace your heating unit. They're "not designed to burn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's when they see issues like creosote build up."

Page also says you should make sure your furnace is in good condition for safety and to save money in those winter months. "Even with our furnaces, make sure you have good filters, that it's running properly and have someone to come check them if you're curious about them," he suggests.

Here are some more tips:
-Don't put anything in your fireplace except wood.
-Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a year.
-Check the Mesa County Web site for No Burn Days.
-Install a chimney cap to keep debris and animals out of your chimney.
-Inspect your fireplace to make sure the lining is not cracked and pipes are not worn out. Most chimney sweeps will inspect it for you.
-Do not use coal or charcoal in your fireplace.
-During fireplace season keep the flue open to let poisonous gases out.

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