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Owning a fireplace is a little work, but it really pays off on a cold winter night when you cozy up to it with a great movie. If you’re new to using a fireplace you’ll want to insure a few of things for the health and safety of your family. Here are 7 essential tips:

1. First, if you have a fireplace but have not used it, it is critical to have a professional check it out. You’ll need to insure that the top is vented properly, that nothing is blocking the vents (such as a bird’s nest) and that it is safe enough to use.

2. Buying Wood. Once you ascertain that the fireplace is working properly, make sure to purchase only quality wood for it. The wood should be aged at least a year from being cut in order to make sure that it will not overly smoke. Often, your landscaping locations will sell it, but make sure you shop around for a good price. It’s not all the same or the same price. If you go for store bought bundles of wood, you’ll surely pay quite a bit more. Here in Ohio, it’s common to find rural home owners giving away firewood from the trees that they have cut down – you just need a truck to haul it.

3. Before using the fireplace, make sure the draft vent is open to allow the smoke to escape. If you leave it open when not in use though, you’ll feel a cold wind. Make it a habit of reviewing to insure it is open before lighting any matches.

4.Burning Properly. When you place wood into the fireplace, make sure it fits properly and that the fireplace doors will close. If you do not have doors, a screen is a must to keep sparks from hitting carpeting or other flammable objects.

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5. What You Burn. It is also central for you to watch what you burn. Not all offerings that can burn should be burnt because they will give off harmful toxins. Only burn wood and newspaper-like items. Even coated (shiny) paper should be avoided as it is chemical-heavy.

6. Keep It Clean. Keep the fireplace clean by removing ash after each fire. And once a year, you should have it professionally cleaned. An alternative is to use a fireplace cleaning log on occasion, but you still need to have it professionally cleaned to remove build up.

7. DO NOT OVERSTACK! Burning large fires in your fireplace can generate excess heat and flame that can get into cracks and cause chimney fires.

Taking better care of your fireplace is essential to keeping it in good working order. If you do not do so, you are risking the health and safety of family members within your home. Using your fireplace correctly can help to lower heating bills and provide a pleasant and peaceful atmosphere.

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