How To Properly Manage Your Fireplace
When you think of your fireplace, you might think of a romantic evening or a source of heat if you don’t have central heating. However, that fireplace can be a hazard if not properly maintained. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that 36% of residential fires start with fireplaces, wood stoves and other household appliances that burn solid fuels. That percentage can be reduced by following proper fireplace safety precautions.
Some Common Precautions To Make
- Have the chimney inspected at least annually. It might be fun to watch the chimney sweeps dance and sing in Mary Poppins, but the chimney inspector’s job is much more serious. By having your chimney inspected and cleaned, you can catch budding fire hazards early and eliminate them.
- Prevent creosote buildup. Creosote is most commonly used as a wood preservative and is a toxic substance. To prevent buildup in your chimney, open the glass doors while the fire is burning so that the fire receives proper air flow. Use seasoned hardwood as a fuel and avoid soft, moist wood as much as possible. If you have a wood stove, make sure the air inlets are never blocked.
- Keep flammables away from the fireplace. Especially clear the area around the hearth of any flammable materials and use fire-resistant building materials around the fireplace.
- Keep glass doors closed when not using your fireplace. This helps keep any stray embers from escaping the fireplace area and causing a fire.
- Clear away leaves and debris on your roof. Flammables near the top of your chimney can catch fire from flying embers and cause damage.
- Wait until ashes cool before disposing of them. If you feel any heat or smell smoke when inspecting the ashes, they aren’t completely cool. Douse them with water, place them in a tightly sealed metal container and take the container at least ten feet away from any buildings.
- Only burn wood in your fireplace. Cardboard and garbage should be burned outdoors if your city ordinances permit it, recycled if possible or disposed of in a safe manner if not.
- Never just walk away from a fire. Extinguish it before you retire for the night or leave the house. Double-check to make sure it’s out because the fuel and ashes can continue to smolder long after the visible flames have gone down.
- If you have children, teach them about fire safety. Besides making sure they keep their flammable belongings away from the fireplace, teaching them what to do if a fire gets out of control could save their lives in a variety of situations.
- Make sure you have a plan in place if your house catches fire. Inspect your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors frequently, have family fire drills, and make sure everybody knows what to do if there is a fire.
It sounds like a lot of work just to enjoy your fireplace, doesn’t it? However, it’s worth it to avoid losing your most valuable possessions and possibly even your life because of a stray ember. By using your fireplace in a safe and responsible manner, you can enjoy those romantic evenings by the fireplace without worrying about becoming another statistic.
Adam is a content contributor for Smokey Mountain Fireplaces. Adam enjoys writing about home improvement tips, new technology, and much more. He recommends you check out this website to see some great fireplaces.