Wood-Burning Fireplace Safety
A periodic professional inspection will help you enjoy your fireplace to the fullest. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, be sure to have the chimney cleaned of built-up creosote. The number 1 cause of fires related to wood-burning appliances is built-up creosote, or unburned fuel on the inside of the chimney.
Have the gaskets and seals inspected as well, and replace as needed. If your wood-burning fireplace is equipped with a blower, have it cleaned. Dust and hair can build up. Have any broken or deteriorated brick or stone replaced.
Woodburning Fireplace Safety Tips
- If your fireplace doesn’t have one, install a cap at the top of the chimney to keep debris or animals from blocking the chimney.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
- Make sure the area around the fireplace is not cluttered with books, newspapers, magazines, or any other flammable items. Two feet away is smart.
- Regularly clean out ashes from previous fires.
- Use a fireplace grate and fireplace tools.
- Keep glass doors open during the fire.
- Never burn garbage, or rolled newspapers.
- Never use fire accelerants.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Don’t close the damper until the embers have stopped burning completely.
Gas-Burning Fireplaces Need Attention
If you have a gas-burning log fireplace, it’s a good idea to have them inspected by a qualified technician. It is also a good idea to replace the batteries of a remote.
Finally, make sure you have working smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector in place. Make sure the batteries are fresh, as well, or they won’t be any good when you need them. If new parts are needed, consult the hearth product directory on the Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association website.
Gas-Burning Fireplace Safety Tips
- Clean the glass regularly to prevent build-up.
- Ensure the vents are not obstructed and able to do the job.
- Clean the fan and related air circulation passages.
- Clean and adjust the embers and logs regularly.
- Maintain all hearth products for maximum safety, making sure to read the manufactures instructional material for correct information.
Consult the National Fireplace Institute for more information, or to verify if an installer is certified.
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STARTING A SAFE FIRE (HPBA.org)
Creating a perfect fire starts with using seasoned firewood cut to the correct length. To start a safe fire, crumple paper on the grate within the fireplace and cover it with kindling or a manufactured firestarter. Open the fireplace damper fully and light the paper. Once the kindling or the firestarter is burning brightly, add dry seasoned wood to the fire and shut the firescreen. It’s important to avoid overloading the fireplace so the firewood doesn’t tumble out. A couple of logs will suffice. Burning a manufactured firelog purchased from the grocery or hardware store is a good alternative to firewood, and does not require paper to get the fire started.
Thanks to David Goldberg for an informational guest post!
David Goldberg – Home Inspector
Reliable Home Services, Inc.
PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322
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