Wood burning fireplace going down in flames?

by Gilbert Migirditsian, professional engineer, home inspector, and founder of GM Inspection

Did you know that years ago and even now, in some more remote regions, wood burning fireplaces were a principal means of heating for many homes?  Today, it is more of an ambiance setting luxury than a principal means to heat your home but environmental justification has slowly pushed this cozy luxury to the brink of extinction.  If you have one installed in your home, you need to make sure it’s in good working order (that is, if you are still allowed to have one).  Before anything else, you need to make sure your chimney is swept every single year by a professional chimney sweep.  Someone who knows what he’s doing will make short work of this task and ensure you can use your fireplace safely.  The next step is to make sure that the damper is working correctly.  I always check these during inspections by essentially turning the level a few times and making sure the damper door rotates.  A simple test but an effective and essential one.  Ready to light up and cuddle in for the evening?  Then make sure that you are pushing the cold air out of the way before lighting your fire.  Use proper lighting technique and make sure you are using dry logs to ensure you have fire and not smoke!  Finally, don’t ever burn anything in your fireplace that you wouldn’t burn elsewhere in your home.  That means that colored wrapping paper, table scraps, electronic devices, etc.  When lighting a fire you need to keep an eye on it at all times just like you would with an infant, you never know what will happen and it can only take the blink of an eye!  Now, if you live on the island of Montreal like I do, then you’re basically looking at a nice hole in the wall as of October 1st 2018 and as of now you need to declare your fireplace to the City of Montreal.  This is essentially a move to decrease pollution associated to wood burning devices in dense urban areas and impose a formal ban on using a wood burning fireplace as of now during smog warnings, even before the deadline of 2018.  So if you have one of these cozy devices in your home, enjoy it while you can, soon you’ll have to resort to a nice picture crackling on your 70 inch TV with a small portable electric stove in front you!  See you next time when I’ll be back with more useful information!  In the meantime, visit us on Facebook.