5 Ways to Score an A Plus on Your Wood Fireplace Inspections

Erich Kelter - Sunday, January 01, 2012

Every homeowner who has a wood fireplace in their home should be having regular professional inspections at least twice a year to make sure that it's functioning properly. After all, the fireplace allows you to have a fire inside your home, so the number of things that could go wrong is significantly higher than in homes that don't have a wood fireplace. But losing your home to a fire is a tragedy that can be avoided entirely if you have regular professional wood fireplace inspections and do everything you can to take care of your fireplace. Here are 5 things every homeowner with a wood fireplace should be doing in order to get an A+ on your regular wood fireplace inspections:

  1. Have a professional perform wood fireplace inspections at least twice a year. These inspections should be in addition to all of the other regular checks on this list. While you may be able to see an obvious problem with your fireplace or chimney, a professional will be able to see when a problem is just starting to develop so that you can have it repaired before it becomes a major problem. Small fixes are less expensive than major fixes, and when it comes to fireplaces, you just can't be too careful.
  2. Monitor the amount of soot that's in your chimney. Soot is actually very flammable, so you need to make sure that you're having it cleaned regularly. Most professionals recommend that you have a chimney sweep in when the soot gets up to an eighth of an inch deep. It is rather difficult for a homeowner to be able to measure the soot level, so be sure to ask your professional inspector how deep the soot is at the time of your professional wood fireplace inspections. He or she may even be able to tell you if it's time for a chimney sweep to come in.
  3. Burn only dry hardwoods in your fireplace. One of the things inspectors look at when performing wood fireplace inspections is creosote build-up. Creosote is very flammable, and it creates a black crust that can be extremely difficult to see with the naked eye. This is one of those issues that an inspector is more likely to spot than a homeowner, but if you burn only dry hardwoods, you can actually limit the creosote build-up inside of your fireplace. Creosote is formed when wood doesn't burn completely, and dry hardwoods do tend to burn more completely than other woods, thus minimizing the build-up of creosote.
  4. Keep the fire hot and high rather than smoldering. Fires that are stoked and extremely hot also reduce creosote build-up because smoldering fires do not burn wood all the way through quickly enough. Open the flue inside your chimney to increase air flow and make the fire burn hotter and higher.
  5. Check the chimney caps several times a year. The chimney cap is the piece that sits on the top of the chimney and prevents other things from getting in. Birds, other animals, and debris can get into your chimney and clog it up, creating the perfect conditions for a fire to damage your home. Make sure that the chimney cap is in good shape in order to keep unwanted things out. This should be done after major storm events.

Above Grade Home Inspections offers wood fireplace inspections. Their inspectors are WETT certified, which means they know what it takes to have a safe wood burning appliance that's also up to code. Above Grade Home inspections also offers home insurance inspections, pre-purchase and pre-listing inspections, and eco-energy audits. Contact today for an honest and complete inspection you can count on.

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