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Keeping Your Fireplace Safe

By Ben Levy

Before purchasing a home, it's very important to have your fireplace and chimney inspected for structural deterioration and adherence to safety standards. Masonry chimneys can deteriorate over time if not regularly cleaned and maintained, and even metal insert fireplaces must be checked before every heating season.

1) One of the first things to check before lighting a fire is also the easiest to check: assess the spark screen or glass door. If there is no screen or door to your fireplace, do not proceed to light a fire. This is an extreme safety risk and must be rectified at once.

2) Check for damaged or cracked bricks ? any deterioration of bricks within your fireplace can pose a fire risk to your house.

3) Always look up through the chimney to verify the passage is clear. Never light a fire if there is build-up in the chimney; this can cause smoke and dangerous gasses to be released into your house.

4) Never burn dimensional lumber or engineered wood in your fireplace ? many of these have been treated with chemicals and will give off toxic fumes.

5) Always follow the manufacturer's directions for lighting a fire in a metal insert fireplace ? they very with each model. Often these directions can be found on the manufacturer's website.

6) Verify the metal insert fireplace is free of rust, cracks and other physical damage. If the insert is damaged, this can pose a fire risk to your house.

7) By following the above guidelines, you too can enjoy a cozy night curled up in front of the fireplace in your home.

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