Cold weather: Fireplace and chimney safety tips

FireplaceLast week’s recent heat wavelet aside, we’re getting ready for the colder weather, which means long, cozy nights in front of the fire.

Before you light up that wood stove or fireplace for your first fire of the season, make sure that it’s safe and ready to go. You should clean both the stovepipe and hearth opening to the chimney before you strike that first match (a wire brush would be a good tool for this). While you’re in there, check for clogs, cracks, or leaks. Check that stovepipe joints are tightly sealed. If you’re not sure how to clean and check your fireplace, call a professional chimney sweep to do the job.

Does your wood stove have a brick surround? Check the bricks for damage or cracks. Seal cracked bricks with repair cement, found at your neighborhood hardware store. Woodstoves should have a minimum 36” clearance on all sides to avoid danger of high temperatures causing nearby surfaces to catch fire.

Once your chimney, stove or fireplace have been checked and are in good working order, stock up on some well-seasoned hardwoods: ash, beech, hickory, maple or oak are all good choices. The wood should be dried for at least a year prior to burning; if it’s still green, store it on your property that’s not too close your home (to prevent rot and insects) or under a tarp to protect it from the weather. This will also help dry it out faster. You’ll know it’s ready when there are cracks in the end grain.

Enjoy the fall!

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.