The first time you use your built in fireplace, there is a simple protocol to follow for safety reasons. First, you want to make sure you have the proper safety equipment installed. That includes two essential alarm devices: a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector, both of which may be required by law (depending on your state or province). Smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning are both potentially deadly risks, so please have these devices installed if you do not already.
Next, you want to check your fireplace’s chimney for debris. Many people underestimate the probability that debris can accumulate in their chimneys, but we assure you that it can. In windy areas, this is an especially prevalent risk – and in nearly any geographical location, birds can make their nests inside chimneys. If you light a fire and there is a bird nest in your chimney, killing the birds is not the only risk. You will also put yourself at risk because smoke will back up into the home; after all, it has no other place to vent. Also, make sure there is a flue cover at the top of the chimney. This will prevent sparks, which could cause a fire on the roof if they get out of control. A flue cover will greatly reduce the risk of that happening.
Okay, those things are done – but there’s still a little more work to do before you can enjoy your fireplace for the first time. It’s simple, though; just make sure your chimney has been swept completely. It should be cleared of creosote and soot build-up, both of which could cause a chimney fire. You also want to open your fireplace damper, which is the metal flap located right inside the chimney near the front of the fireplace. You should be able to pull the damper down to open it.
Now you can prepare your fire, whether you are using natural wood logs or clean burning fuel, and use your built in fireplace for the first time. Enjoy it!