Although it is the middle of summer now, eventually the cold seasons will come again. When it is cold outside, a warm blaze in the fireplace is a great way to stay cozy. Besides fireplaces, some people heat their homes or do cooking with woodstoves. Fireplaces and woodstoves are great sources of warmth during the chilly months, but it is also important to inspect them and use them safely. Cold weather is still months away, but that makes it a perfect time to get your fireplace or woodstove inspected and ready for when it is needed.
WETT stands for Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc., and it is the name of a non-profit organization that trains and certifies inspectors for wood-burning appliances, including woodstoves and fireplaces. An inspection by a WETT-certified inspector is often required in order to sell or insure a house with a wood-burning appliance, but it is also wise to have regular inspections to ensure everything is kept in good shape. The exact details of what is inspected depend on what types of wood-burning appliances are present, but it starts with the inspector carefully examining dampers, chimneys and chimney liners, smoke chambers, hearths, clearances, and fireboxes. They will also inspect potential hazards, like distance between each source of flame or vent pipes and combustible materials. If the inspector notices something that might be a potential problem, they may call for a more comprehensive inspection. WETT-certified inspectors are easy to find, and it is a wise investment of time and money to have inspections carried out regularly. It may seem like a hassle, but it is always better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to fire, and there are potential problems or dangers that a trained inspector can notice that a homeowner may miss.
Fireplace and Woodstove Safety
- You should always have readily accessible fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, but it is especially important if you have a wood-burning appliance.
- It is a safety hazard to keep anything flammable near a fireplace, so make sure the area around your fireplace or stove is clear.
- Before lighting a fire, whether in a fireplace or a woodstove, always check for any damage or potential issues, like rusted pipes or excessive soot.
- Be sure to open the damper before lighting the fire, and don’t close it until the ashes are cold.
- Only burn clean, dry wood and materials designed to be burned indoors, and never use accelerants like gasoline or kerosene. All of these things can start house fires or cause a buildup of tar and creosote that can lead to a hose fire.
- While the fireplace or stove is burning, you should use a screen or close the doors in order to contain embers or sparks, and you should never leave children unattended around a fireplace or stove.
- If you have a gas fireplace, you should also be aware of the flame’s colour. A blue flame is good, while a yellow or orange flame means there may be a problem and you should call a technician.
- If your stove or fireplace uses a venting system instead of a chimney, you should not use it while you are running other appliances that vent air outside, as it may overtax the system and lead to carbon monoxide buildup in your home.
- Once the fire is out, make sure the ashes are cold before closing the damper.
- Cold ashes should be removed from the fireplace regularly, and stored in a metal container outside the house.
- Besides these safety tips, maintenance is also important. You should make sure your chimneys and pipes are cleaned regularly, in order to make sure dangerous amounts of tar or creosote build up.
Fireplaces and woodstoves are a great source of heat and can make for a cozy evening when it is cold outside, but it is also important to keep them well maintained and operate them safely.