February  99  -  Fireplaces:

Fireplaces can provide elegance and warmth to a home if they are used safely and cleaned frequently.  Contact your local chimney cleaning service or chimney sweep for more information on your specific fireplace.

Wood Burning Fireplaces:        Before using your wood-burning fireplace, equip it with andirons ( or a grate ),  a well fitting screen, and check to see if it draws properly.  To do this, open the damper, light a newspaper on the andirons or grate, and see if the smoke is carried up the chimney.  Open the damper before lighting any fire.  Keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not is use so that warm  air will not escape in the winter and cool air will not escape in the summer.  Build fires on the andirons or grate---not directly on the fireplace floor.  Do not burn trash in the fireplace.  Never use kerosene, gasoline or other highly flammable liquids to start a fire, and always be sure the fire is out each night before you retire.  Store firewood outside and away from the house because it may harbor insects and because wood stored outside will burn longer.   Occasionally throwing a handful of salt on the fire will help prevent the accumulation of soot, and it will also add color to the flames.  However, salt should never be used in metal fireplaces.  A chimney cleaning professional should periodically check and clean your fireplace on a regular basis.

Gas Fireplaces:       A gas fireplace provides the comfort and style of a wood burning unit, but requires far less maintenance.   Many gas fireplaces are more efficient than their wood burning counterparts and as a result, produce less pollution.   Gas fireplaces may have a chimney or may vent exhaust gases ( mainly water vapor and carbon dioxide ) directly outside without a chimney.  IF your gas fireplace is vented, the flue or vent should be kept open at all times, even when the fireplace is not in use.  Use the same safety precautions with a gas fireplace as you would any other gas appliance.  Do not smoke while cleaning or lighting the fireplace.  If you suspect a gas leak, evacuate the home and call the gas company immediately.  Follow the manufacturers instructions for maintenance, safety, and use of your gas fireplace.

Fireplace Links to the Internet:

Some of this information was taken from the book "Your New Home And How To Take Care Of It." as published by the National Association Of Home Builders.   Home Builders Press - 1201 15th Street, NW  Washington, DC. 20005-2800  ( 800 ) 223-2665