Get That Safe & Cozy Feeling with Fireplace Safety Tips
The flickering glow of the fireplace has such a comforting way of bringing families together — to talk, connect and nurture one another’s dreams.
Make the most of our fireplace maintenance and safety tips and cozy up in comfort during these treasured moments.
Start with a clean sweep. At least once a year, before the weather cools, hire a professional chimney sweep to clear the chimney of buildup and to check your bricks, cap and other materials for safety. Take care of any repairs before building your first fire.
Inspect the structure. If it’s been awhile since your chimney sweep stopped by, do a quick walk around yourself, looking for structural integrity — both inside and out.
Check the flue. Look up your flue, you should be able to see daylight. If not there may be combustible material at the top, like a bird’s nest or leaves.
Build a better fire. First, always make sure your damper moves freely and is open. When laying the fire, use a dry hardwood like oak, elm or maple. It will burn cleaner and longer than softwoods like pine, spruce and cedar. Some experts recommend that you hold a lit twisted piece of newspaper in the chimney to get warm air rising before lighting the kindling in your fire. Remember never to use liquid fire starters indoors.
Manufactured logs and kindling are also an option — they’re convenient and emit lower rates of pollutants, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Use your fireplace tools. Standard fireplace tools consist of a poker, tongs, a broom and shovel. You may want to add to your collection with a dust scoop and a good pair of gloves. These tools are there for your protection, but they only help you if they’re used consistently and correctly.
Reduce creosote build-up. Creos-what? Creosote is that tar-like, flaky stuff that can lead to chimney fires. One of the easiest ways to reduce this buildup is to avoid green or wet wood. Also, building smaller fires can help since they produce less smoke, and in turn, less creosote.
Manufactured chimney “sweeping” logs that have chemicals in them to reduce certain types of creosote can help. Just remember that none of these replace the need for an annual chimney cleaning. The resulting peace of mind when you’re cuddled up by the fire is worth it − promise!
Use smart hearth habits. Use a spark screen on top of the fireplace to keep burning embers from escaping up the chimney and a grate or glass doors on the front to keep sparks inside the wood box. A non-flammable rug adds even more protection for your floor.
Be earth-friendly. Avoid burning treated wood, plastic or garbage, which can release harmful toxins. And check to see if your state has no burn days or other environmental restrictions for wood-burning fireplaces or stoves.
Check your detectors. Regularly checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is important. Why not tie that check into your first fire of the season maintenance routine?
With these helpful tips, we hope you have a happy and safe season around the hearth.