Your Place: Keep those home fires burning safely

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Santa Claus uses your fireplace only one night a year to provide that old holiday cheer.

It’s likely you use it much more often to keep your home and family cozy.

Here are some safety tips from Napoleon Fireplaces:

—Have your chimney cleaned before starting to use a wood-burning fireplace, stove, or insert.

The leading cause of fires from wood-burning appliances is creosote — unburned fuel — that has accumulated in the chimney.

—Have any gasket material in the fireplace unit inspected and replaced as required, such as the gasket sealing the door, the door glass, and, in some cases, the ash dump.

—Replace any broken or deteriorated brick lining in a wood-burning unit.

If the brick lining is deteriorated to the point that the steel body is exposed, heat from the fire can cause permanent damage.

—Have gas-burning fireplaces serviced, using a qualified technician. Even the glass must be cleaned annually to keep it looking clear.

—Clean the blower if the unit is equipped with one. Blowers do not have filtering systems to prevent buildup of dust and hair. As dust accumulates on the blower blades, the balance of the blower will change, causing premature wearing of the bearings. Dust also insulates the motor, preventing it from being cooled, and can eventually cause the motor to seize up.

—Clear the airways. Combustion systems are affected by dust, too, and even insects can impair their performance.

The airways of both the pilot and the main burners should be regularly cleaned to ensure that they are operating correctly, and a general inspection of the entire system, including the safety controls, is also beneficial.

—Replace the batteries in any optional remote transmitters and, in some cases, in the receiver, as well. Even when the fireplace is not being used, the power held in a battery is slowly depleted.

—Check and replace the batteries and test any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors you have in your home to ensure that those defense monitors are always operating properly.