Winter is coming: make sure your wood stove/fireplace is safe

It’s that time of year and nothing is more comforting than curling up beside a crackling fire or around the warmth of a wood stove.

  • Nov. 9, 2016 7:00 a.m.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

It’s that time of year and nothing is more comforting than curling up beside a crackling fire or around the warmth of a wood stove.

But before doing so, it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure that your fireplace or wood stove is operating properly and free of hazards to prevent events such as chimney fires.

The first step is to watch for warning signs according to the Technical Standards and Safety Authority.

Look for corrosion or rust on the outer shell of a metal chimney.

Watch also for bulges or corrosion of the liner as well. Other problems include: loose bricks, crumbling mortar, dark stains and white powder.

These issues should be checked and repaired immediately by a certified contractor or mason.

Secondly, check stove pipes and connections. Ensure that screws are located at every joint and that each connection is tight and secure.

Also, look for signs of dark staining or white powder (leeching) at every joint. Rust is a sign that the stove pipe needs replacing.

Third, check walls for excessive heat.

If the wall above your fireplace or wood stove is very hot, it could be a sign of improper chimney installation causing a potential fire hazard.

Also, make sure your chimney is cleaned once every year to avoid any potential hazards such as obstructions, etc.

Lastly, keep combustible objects away from your wood stove or fireplace and a properly fitted screen should be used at all times. Floors and walls should be protected with non-combustible shields.

In the case of gas fireplaces, never leave a young child alone near a gas fireplace.

Every year, children are burned from contact with the glass barrier at the front of a gas fireplace.

It takes an average of about 45 minutes for a fireplace to cool to a safe temperature after it’s been extinguished.

Create a barrier around the gas fireplace and teach children about the dangers of fire.

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