A wood-burning fireplace is a cozy feature in any type of home and offers extra warmth and a cozy ambiance in the setting. Sitting by the fire while tending to burning logs is an enjoyable way to spend time in a living room or bedroom but can be a hazard if you don’t follow a few important safety tips. In this post, you will learn a few useful tips for fireplace safety to ensure you know how to handle the wood and flames correctly during the colder months of the year.
Tips for Fireplace Safety
Choose the Right Fuel
According to the National Fire Protection Association, when you’re researching fireplace safety tips, you’ll discover you need to carefully select the right fuel for your fireplace. When you want to keep your home warm and avoid turning the thermostat up, it can be easy to throw anything to burn in the fireplace.
Unfortunately, not everything burns cleanly or easily. Hardwood like lumbar burns better than softwoods because they’re denser, which means you won’t have to purchase as much throughout the season to enjoy long fires. Avoid using any wet wood pieces or anything that has mold or rot present.
Keep in mind that you should only use local firewood to prevent diseases and pests from spreading in the neighborhood. Proper storage of the wood is also essential to ensure you can use it in the coming year and protect the materials until the colder season arrives. The wood should be placed on a platform off the ground to prevent critters and pests from accessing the wood. This will also prevent moisture from having contact with the wood as it’s stacked. Proper coverage with a tarp is necessary to keep moisture and the elements off the wood while still allowing for proper ventilation.
Despite what type of wood you choose to burn, it’s also necessary to use fireplace tools by utilizing a shovel, broom, tongs, and even a poker. Use gloves to protect your hands while kindling the fire to prevent getting burned from any embers or the heat from the flames. Avoid using your hands to touch any of the wood that you assume is cool, which can lead to severe burns.
In-between fires or once each week, you’ll need to clean out the firebox to remove all the ashes and place the waste in a container. Avoid cleaning out the ashes for three days after having the fire because the coals can still be hot to touch. You’ll then need to close the flue to prevent any of the heat from inside the fireplace from escaping.
The cleaning process should also include wiping down the doors to remove stains that are present due to exposure to the heat and flames. Wait until the glass is cool to the touch and remove thick gunk by scraping it off with a sharp razor blade. Soapy water is safe to use and works well for removing the grime to make the glass clear and transparent again. Use lint-free newspaper to wipe off the moisture to create a streak-free finish that restores the beauty of your fireplace.
Know How to Burn Firewood
When you want to practice fireplace safety, it’s important to know how to burn firewood correctly to avoid potential issues or affecting the indoor air quality. Avoid using chemicals, which means you need to avoid burning paint, gasoline, or kerosene. The toxic chemicals can enter the air, which you end up breathing while spending time in the building. Pinecones are a better alternative and can ignite the fire without releasing any harmful contaminants into the building.
The best types of wood to choose include cured woods like maple, oak, or elm. These types of woods are known to burn longer and cleaner while producing less smoke to avoid adding more firewood. Burning wood that has been treated can release toxins into the air. If you decide to use wood logs that are artificial or manufactured, closely follow the instructions printed on the packaging. Avoid burning more than one log at a time because they burn hotter than natural wood, which can lead to warping on metal chimneys.
You also want to avoid burning any paper or plastic. If you need more success lighting the fire, hang a piece of wrapping paper higher into the chimney to make the warm air rise before lighting the wood. Using smaller pieces of wood can also produce less smoke, making it useful to look for twigs in the yard before enjoying a fire.
Inspect Your Chimney Cap
The chimney cap needs to be secure, along with the mesh covering, which prevents debris or pests from entering at the top of the chimney. It’s also important to keep nearby trees trimmed, which can knock off the cap in the middle of a storm. You should also check the brickwork to determine if any cracks are present, which requires repairs.
Test the Fireplace Damper
One of the most important fireplace safety tips to follow is to inspect the damper and test it out. Your fireplace damper needs to be working correctly by controlling the exhaust from the fire to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide. When the damper isn’t in use, it should be closed to prevent any outside elements from entering the building. You can test it out by holding a candle in the fireplace when the damper is closed. You’ll notice it’s not completely closed if the flame begins to flicker, which may be due to a build-up of creosote and ash deposits that accumulate over time and prevent it from closing all the way. Installing a chimney-top damper will keep the chimney sealed to remedy the issue.
It’s also important to check the flue, which should be cleared to ensure there’s proper airflow. If you don’t see any sunlight present when looking up at it, it’s a sign there may be a nest or a pile of leaves at the top.
Clean the Chimney
Cleaning the chimney is essential to preventing chimney fires, which includes cleaning out ashes from previous fires. There should be less than one inch of ash to ensure enough air is present. Avoid using a vacuum cleaner when removing the ash because some embers may still be present and can lead to accidents.
Fireplace safety includes minimizing the buildup of creosote and soot that can accumulate and leads to fires because of how flammable it becomes. Chimney sweeps lead to less creosote in the fireplace is necessary to have fires safely.
Fireplace safety also includes performing a chimney sweep to prevent fires in the chimney while also preventing corrosion from accumulating. Although you may want to save money with a DIY sweep, it can be difficult to perform correctly without the proper training and tools. You can also consider hiring someone to perform a professional chimney sweep every 80 fires to ensure you can continue to safely burn wood and avoid accidents.
Homeowners should look for a professional in the local area who can perform a certified chimney sweep each year, according to the EPA. Consider contacting the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to find reputable venting and chimney professionals who can perform quality work and extensive experience in the industry. The organization also connects homeowners to professionals who are trained and skilled in installing a wood stove.
When it’s time to clean the hearth, wash and dry the materials before applying lemon oil every month to ensure it has a sleek and glossy finish. If the hearth is located on the outside of the building, opt for purchasing a brick cleaner to remove more grime and dirt that can be harder to clean by hand.
Keep Fire Extinguishers Within Reach
It’s important to have access to extinguishers in the home to reduce the risk of a house fire if the flames ever come out of the fireplace. The devices should be inspected once each year to ensure they’re fully charged. They should be easy to find and in plain sight. You can also have one that is always directly next to the fireplace to ensure you can quickly grab it in the event of fires.
You also want to keep the area around the fireplace clear to prevent any embers from causing a fire. Avoid placing a Christmas tree or furniture too close to the fireplace for added fireplace safety. Inspect the area around the fireplace to ensure there aren’t any flammable materials close to the feature, which includes rugs or curtains. Fortunately, a fireplace safety screen will offer more protection even if some flammable items are left out in the room close to the fireplace.
When you want to follow the right fireplace safety tips, it’s also important to inspect the smoke detectors installed in your home each season, as well as the carbon monoxide detectors. Many people even choose to install a carbon monoxide detector close to the fireplace because the carbon monoxide doesn’t have a smell and is impossible to see. The detector will immediately alert you if it’s released, which often occurs when there’s insufficient ventilation in the building. Additionally, one of the most important fireplace safety tips is to avoid leaving the fireplace unattended, which can increase the risk of fires.
Use a Fireplace Screen
If you’re looking for tips for fireplace safety, it’s important to use a fireplace safety screen to prevent embers from jumping out into the room. If you have glass doors with your fireplace safety screen, it’s useful for keeping drafts out of the room when the chimney isn’t in use.
Similar to a fireplace safety screen, glass doors are also effective and make the fireplace more heat-efficient by up to 80 percent.
Keeping a nearby window open is also necessary when you light a fire for proper ventilation in the home. The flames need five times more oxygen than the normal room requires to prevent them from dying out too quickly.
Consider an Electric Fireplace
If you want a safer way of enjoying a fire in your home without dealing with a high-maintenance wood-burning fireplace, opt for an electric fireplace. There are many electric fireplaces available on the market, which includes brands like Magikflame.
Achieve the same look as a real fireplace because of the ultra-realistic flame effects, which makes it look like there are real flames present. Use a Magikflame best electric fireplace buying guide to discover the different models available and find one that is a style and design that will look appealing in your home.
A Magikflame electric fireplace offers real gas and wood-burning simulation with flame effects that are safer and low-maintenance for added convenience. It also includes a built-in heater and authentic crackling log sounds. Learn more about how MagikFlame is built.
You can choose from dozens of different flame effects with a product that acts as a fireplace insert. The metal firebox slides directly into the wall and doesn’t require any venting or a chimney, making it accommodate more types of settings.
A MagikFlame electric fireplace is easy to use and won’t require cleaning up creosote buildup or combustible materials. Compared to a gas fireplace, it doesn’t have a firebox that you have to access to keep the fire burning or to clean out every time you have a fire.
Some settings like offices can look more professional and modern with an electric fireplace and can contribute to the ambiance in the setting without having to care for the fire.
Consumers also appreciate the built-in 5,200 BTU heater, which makes it feel like a real fire and allows the room to stay cozy as the fireplace is in use. The product even creates crackling log sounds that will make you believe there’s a real fire burning.
Understanding proper fireplace safety is crucial to protecting your health and safety during the colder months of the year. Knowing the right tools to use and obtaining assistance from trained professionals in the area can offer peace of mind and allow you to stay warm and safe by the fire.