Top Hat Outdoor Living Blog

Tips for Enjoying Your Outdoor Fireplace

Safe Burning Tips for Your Fireplace This Winter

When the weather starts to cool down, many people look forward to hosting a party outdoors by a warm, cozy fire. However, it important that you know how to properly use your fireplace and maintain your chimney. Following just a few simple tips can keep the entire family safe while they enjoy the warmth and roar of a cozy fire.

Nothing ruins a good outdoor party like a smoky dance floor. Keep the fireplace & chimney in good working order.

Nothing ruins a good outdoor party like a smoky dance floor. Keep the fireplace & chimney in good working order.

Before making a fire, it is very important to make sure that the damper is open. This is the piece inside of the chimney that allows smoke to exit the chimney.  Leaving it closed is a common mistake but it can lead to serious issues. If the space begins to fill with dark, heavy smoke, there is a good chance that the damper is closed. Avoid this problem completely and double check before beginning.

It is also important to keep in mind that not every type of wood is intended for use in a fireplace. Only use wood that has been properly seasoned for at least eight months. Using wood that is too damp can cause the fire to burn too hot or to smoke uncontrollably. It also increases the level of creosote in your chimney, which is highly flammable.

It is a good idea to have a proper screen on the outside of the fireplace, especially if there are small children around. It is very important that no foreign objects are allowed to make their way into the fire. For example, a fireplace is not the place to burn garbage for disposal purposes. This can ignite a dangerous flame and can also cause significant damage to the structure of the firebox. Only burn materials that are intended to go into the fireplace, such as seasoned wood or coal.

It is also very important to keep the fireplace and chimney clean throughout the cold weather season. A small amount of ash left on the bottom of the fireplace is a great way to provide insulation. However, soot and other material left in the flue can cause it to become clogged. This is very dangerous when smoke and a variety of combustible gasses cannot be ventilated properly. Before starting a fire, take a look inside the flue and see if there are any noticeable obstructions that could pose a problem.

In addition to these tips, it is a good idea to have the fireplace and chimney inspected at the start of each fall or winter. A certified chimney sweep may be able to identify issues that would not be noticeable to the untrained eye. A chimney sweep can also provide a thorough cleaning so that there are no obstructions to clog the chimney. Proper maintenance is the most important step in keeping the chimney and fireplace safe.

Enjoying a fire on a winter night can be one of the best parts of the season. However, it is important to follow safety procedures and to properly maintain the structure. If the fireplace and chimney are not used and cared for properly, they can become dangerous. The result might be a health risk for the family or a fire risk for the home. Be sure to burn the proper materials, keep the structure clean and invest in an annual inspection.