Fire Safety Awareness

A Fireplace Safety Reminder



Nothing is quite as cozy and nice as curling up near a warm fire in your home during the winter, but not maintaining a clean and properly functioning fireplace and chimney can turn that comforting atmosphere into one that is less than safe. Here are some easy guidelines and tips to remember for maintaining a hazard free fireplace and a safe home.

Safe Fireplace Usage

  • Before you begin using your fireplace, be sure to open the damper so it can allow smoke and harmful toxins to escape through the chimney.
  • Move all flammable pieces of home décor or furniture away from the fireplace and keep children and animals at a safe distance. 3 feet of space surrounding your fireplace is ideal.
  • Never use lighter fluid or any other flammable liquids to help start a fire indoors and be careful not build your fire to large.
  • Never burn cardboard, mail or trash in your fireplace. Fireplaces and chimneys are not built to tolerate the additional amount of creosote this can produce. Creosote is the byproduct of burning wood or paper products which can become extremely combustible if it builds up in your chimney. Only use dry wood or commercial products that are specially made for burning in fireplaces, like Duraflame logs. If you do use a commercial product, be sure to follow instructions carefully.
  • Never leave the home or retire to bed without making sure the fireplace is no longer burning.
  • When you dispose of ashes, make sure they have completely cooled and then dump them in a metal container with a lid. As an extra precaution, the metal container should be kept outside and away from the home.

Creosote, as we mentioned before, can become dangerous if it builds up in your chimney. If you use your fireplace at all, you should have it cleaned once a year to avoid any accidental fires. The same professional who cleans your chimney can also perform a thorough inspection, but there are ways you can check to make sure your fireplace is in safe working condition on your own well.

Easy Maintenance and Inspection

To perform an outdoor inspection, check to make sure that your chimney cap is intact. The cap is vital to keeping animals, precipitation and debris out of your chimney. If you live in a multi-level home, use a pair of binoculars to look at your chimney cap. Some things you should check for include:

  • No buildup of debris or any bird’s nests are on or near the cap as well as hanging tree limbs.
  • Bricks or material that the chimney is constructed of is in good shape.
  • The chimney top is at least 2 feet above the roof and is beveled to promote a steady air flow.
  • You can see the flue liner above the chimney top, the chimney itself is straight and not leaning in any direction and the roof flashing is tightly affixed to the chimney. The flashing is the material, usually aluminum or steel, which wraps around any structure protruding from the roof to protect from water seeping in at the seams.

If there is an issue with any of the items regarding your chimney and cap then you should contact a professional to come inspect and repair it immediately!

You can perform an indoor inspection using a flashlight to check that your flue damper properly opens and closes.

  • If a damper does not fully open properly then smoke and harmful toxins can become trapped inside the home causing a serious health hazard. If the damper is completely open, you should be able to see daylight at the top of your chimney and also further inspect for any obstructions, like a bird’s nest, in the flue.
  • If the damper doesn’t seal properly, you could end up losing a substantial amount of heat from your home which can lead to a more expensive heating bill.

Be sure to check the entire structure surrounding your fireplace, including the hearth, for any cracks or missing mortar. Check for signs of moisture inside the firebox which would indicate that there is a problem with your chimney cap. If there are any issues with your indoor inspection, you such get in touch with a professional to come and further inspect it, immediately.

Gas Fireplaces

  • Glass doors should be carefully inspected for any cracks and latches should be in perfect working condition.
  • Make sure all gas logs are positioned properly according to manufacturer instructions.
  • When testing the igniter, turn off the gas at the shut-off valve first.
  • Whenever you light a fire you should inspect for any clogged burner holes. If any are present then be sure to turn off the gas and remove any clogs before resuming use. You can do this with a pin or needle.

Keep these important fireplace safety tips in mind and enjoy a safe and comfortable fire burning season!


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