Practicing Proper Fire Safety with a Fireplace or Stove
Many Americans look forward to the cold weather months not for the weather itself but for the opportunities that weather affords them. One such opportunity is sitting in front of a roaring fire. Fireplaces and stoves provide countless homes with economical heat and a relaxed atmosphere during the cold days of winter. Unfortunately, when those fireplaces and stoves aren’t properly maintained, they can quickly become a source of danger for your home and everyone inside. More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces and stoves as primary heat sources in their home; however, it’s estimated that less than 20% of American homeowners realize the importance of regular chimney maintenance.
Don’t let your dreams go up in smoke! Follow these important fire safety tips:
- Before lighting a fire in your woodstove or fireplace, be sure that the damper is fully opened. This allows proper ventilation for your fire.
- Never use your fireplace for the burning of garbage, Christmas trees, piles of paper, or building scraps.
- Install a spark shield (spark arrestor) or wire basket on top of your chimney.
- Ensure that your chimney rises at least two feet higher than the roof peak or any tall, nearby objects. Add another foot if your roof is flat or nearly flat.
- Check your flue regularly for any obstructions such as squirrel or bird nests, debris, etc.
- Don’t pile on wood and smother the fire, as this causes creosote to build up in your stove and chimney. Remember, high flames burning hot will burn cleanly.
- Woodstoves should be at least 3 feet from unprotected combustible materials.
- Always use a fireplace screen or glass doors. Never keep your wood burning stove door open unless you have a screen or glass door as a backup.
- Keep the area around the hearth clear of debris, decorations, and flammable materials.
- Keep your fireplace and chimney in good condition. Check your chimney for cracks and loose mortar or bricks. Have any problems fixed before using your fireplace or stove.
- Never leave a fire in your fireplace unattended. Make sure the fire is extinguished before going to bed.
- Chimneys should be inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
- Gasoline or other flammable liquids should never be used to start a wood fire, as this could potentially lead to an explosion or flare up.
- Pressure treated wood should never be burned in stoves or fireplaces because it contains toxic chemicals that can make you extremely sick.
- Artificial logs made of wax and sawdust should never be used in woodstoves and should only be used one at a time in fireplaces.
- Learn about seasoned woods and which types of woods are best to burn. Only hardwoods should be used as primary fuel sources since softwoods produce a higher proportion of creosote and resin (softwoods are best suited for getting a fire started, whereas hardwoods are a better fit for keeping your fire burning for longer periods of time).
- A standard ABC fire extinguisher should be kept on hand for each stove or fireplace in your home. However, it’s important to remember that if you ever have any doubt about whether or not you can adequately extinguish a fire, it’s best to err on the side of caution and just get out. Call the fire department and leave the fire fighting to the professionals.
The number one goal at Chimney Saver Solutions is to make you and your family as safe as possible in your home. Many homeowners feel that ignorance is bliss and would rather not know when something is wrong. This can have disastrous consequences. This is what drives us to be the best educated and trained professionals in everything we service and/or install in your home. It’s what we talk about, care about and what we do. There is a reason we are Richmond’s most respected full-service chimney company: we help you breathe easy. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment or with any questions you may have.