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Don't Roast Your Chestnuts in an Unsafe Fireplace

In North Texas, we hardly ever have a chance to use our fireplaces. But when temperatures drop to 30-40 degrees outside, we eagerly anticipate the warmth of a nice cozy fire. The fireplace becomes the epicenter of the home when the weather and/or the time is right. Most of us just throw in some wood or turn the gas on and turn on the TV, right?

Picture this- You buy a new house and you try to use the fireplace for the first time. Smoke fills the house causing a fire to start. Not ideal and quite frankly, a nightmare.

The (NFPA) National Fire Protection Association has standards for the levels of inspections for fireplaces and chimneys. Before 2000, it was up to the company doing the inspection how thorough that inspection must be. NFPA now has three levels of certifications.

Level 1

The most basic of inspections is done when performing an annual chimney sweep. After cleaning the chimney, a level 1 inspection is done to visually check the fireplace's basic construction and mechanisms. The inspector checks the fireplace chimney to ensure it is clear of obstructions that could block the flue.

Level 2

If you need a level 2 inspection, it's most likely because of structure changes. Examples include changing the fuel type, changes in material, or the shape of the flue (relining). A level 2 inspection should also be done when the property changes homeowners.

Level 3

This inspection is thorough and may involve a technician dismantling parts of the structure for further examination. These technicians have the proper equipment to inspect deeper down into the chimney and flue. This inspection will help us determine if the chimney has been rebuilt or if the back wall bricks have been replaced. These are two of the most common repairs that chimneys and fireplaces undertake in their lifetimes.

Fireplace Safety

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure to remove any ashes and debris from the firebox after each use. To clean gas fireplaces, use a gentle cleaner to remove soot and buildup from the glass doors and interior.

Use the right fuel for your fireplace, whether it's wood or gas, to prevent harm or danger. For wood-burning fireplaces, use only seasoned hardwood, as it produces less creosote and burns more efficiently. For gas fireplaces, make sure to use the recommended type of gas and follow the builder's instructions.

Over time, the heat from your fireplace can cause cracks and damage to the firebox and chimney. Checking for any signs of damage, such as cracks, loose bricks, or missing mortar, and addressing them promptly is essential. If left unattended, these issues can worsen and lead to costly repairs.

If you have questions about fireplace inspections, give us a call!

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