Did you know if you open up a persimmon, you can tell the weather? It’s true. If there is a spoon shaped piece in there or a knife shaped piece, you can know with 50 percent accuracy if you’re about to have a bad winter or not. And...hear this...if you want the persimmon to be right, it turns out to be 100 percent accurate. All you have to do is see what you want to see. It’s that easy. That principle of seeing what you want to see is also helpful when falling in love, but we digress. When talking about fireplace safety, though, homeowners should not use selective truth. They should take some easy, essential steps to keep their household warm while still being safe.
We put this one first because it is the most important and also because chimney sweeps get really popular as the weather changes and you’ll need to schedule early. (A lot of people don’t know about the persimmon trick so they get caught off guard.) Chimney sweeps remove the most likely catalyst for trouble, which is creosote. A professional with specialized equipment and years of experience will do a tremendous job. Plus, many insurance companies often will not pay out on damages for homes with no professional cleaning. This is a cheap way to save a lot of money while achieving fireplace safety.
The chimney sweep should include an inspection of the fireplace, which includes checking the integrity of the chimney, cap, flue, and other infrastructure elements. If the sweep doesn’t include this, or homeowners want to leave no stone unturned, there are DIY videos to help. In addition to infrastructure integrity, there are also obstructions and leaks to consider. An inspection should include looking for obstructions, such as leaves and other debris, and also birds’ nests or other critters. The seals around the door and ash dump, if applicable, should be checked. Air leaks aren’t safe and can lead to over-fire.
The damper and blower need to be fully operational to achieve fireplace safety. A test run should do it. And then the finish line should be to make sure your smoke alarms are working and placed correctly. DO NOT START A FIRE UNTIL YOUR SMOKE ALARMS ARE WORKING. (Gotta say, it felt great to use the all caps button.) Every year hundreds of homes catch fire from many sources - stove tops, bbq grills, and even though they are incredibly safe, fireplaces. This is not the time to save money on batteries or 20 minutes of maintenance.