Winterizing Your Home: Tip 1

It is that time of year again - the shortest, yet most anticipated season in Texas.  That time when you actually have to worry about how many layers of clothes you want on instead of how few.  Simply put, Winter has come.  Luckily for us it does not include white walkers or heavy amounts of snow, but winter in Central Texas still has its own dangers.  Over the next few months, we will be highlighting various tasks to prepare your home for the winter weather and keeping your family warm and safe during this time.

Arguably one of the most dangerous things in your home during the winter season is the fireplace.  With its welcoming warmth and flickering flames, fireplaces might not appear at first as a danger to your house and family. The joys of sitting around a cozy fire can soon disappear when proper safety is not followed.

Precautionary steps is where fireplace safety begins. Before a fire is ever lit, the following tips or features can help keep your fireplace safe. Always have a screen or doors to keep your fire contained. Screens and doors are an important safety feature for keeping our children and pets at a safe distance and hold back roaring flames and debris from escaping your fireplace.  A visible check of the flue is good practice to ensure smoke can freely leave your fireplace. Be sure to look for any obstructions or foreign objects that could prevent dangerous gases from exiting upwards through your flue. A professional chimney sweep can thoroughly inspect your fireplace, flue, and chimney for any debris.

If you have gas lines coming into your fireplace, check for any wear and tear before lighting a fire.  A leaky or damaged gas line combined with a flame can result in an explosion or uncontrollable fire. Use your sense of smell to check for any leaking gas before ever igniting a fire or turning on the gas. Call your local gas company if you do smell any gas without ever having turned on your gas valves. For those of you who use gas logs only, your fireplace will have much less residue buildup inside your firebox and flue that you will have to clean.

With these quick and easy reminders in hand, there should not be anything standing between you and warming your hands next to dancing flames this winter season. Having your chimney cleaned every few years never hurts and keeps things like birds or pests from building anything in there that might catch fire.

Stay safe and warm this holiday season, and remember that if it does not look right to you call a professional to make sure your fireplace is in proper working order before using it.