11 Tips for Safer Fireplace Fires
It’s fireplace season, and whether you use your fireplace for pure enjoyment or as a source for heat in your home, it’s important that it be readied for the season and maintained properly to ensure safety.
- Many fireplace-related fires start from creosote buildup or obstructions in chimneys, so the first thing to do is make sure yours inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney specialist. This should be done annually, and if you haven’t done it yet, put it at the top of your list.
- Open the damper before lighting the fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool. This will help prevent creosote buildup that can cause a chimney fire.
- When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on a strong supporting grate.
- Keep your fire small. Smaller fires burn more completely and produce less smoke.
- Don’t use gasoline, charcoal lighter fluid or other fuel to light or relight the fire. The vapors can explode. For the same reason, don’t keep any flammable liquids nearby. Vapors from them can travel across a room and explode.
- Don’t use coal or charcoal in your fireplace. They can cause a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide.
- If you use wood logs, use dry, seasoned hardwood, since soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
- If you use artificial logs, remember that they don’t burn the same as regular logs. Be sure to read and carefully follow the instructions.
- Always use a fireplace screen to keep sparks from flying out into the room and onto people and flammable materials. Keep flammable materials at least two feet away from the fire.
- Make sure the ashes are completely cooled before removing them. Using an ash vacuum cleaner makes disposal of ashes faster and easier.
- Every home should have both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Be sure yours are placed properly to so detect excessive smoke or gas from near your fireplace.