A fireplace adds to the style and beauty of room while providing a heat source when the temperatures begin to dip. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than one-third of all Americans use a fireplace or other fuel-fired appliance as a primary heat source. All home heating sources require regular inspections and upkeep to continue working efficiently safely.
Every fireplace owner should consider seven important safety tips:
1. Contract a chimney sweep annually
The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends hiring a certified chimney sweep once a year to inspect and clean the chimney, fireplace, and vents. Sooty buildup (creosote) can lead to chimney fires. The chimney sweep should perform an outdoor inspection of the chimney as well to search for cracks and missing mortar or bricks that can lead to safety issues.
2. Install a chimney cap
Prevent leaves, twigs, and even small animals from entering the chimney by installing a chimney cap. The cap fits over the top of the chimney and allows ventilation without allowing unwanted debris to enter the chimney.
3. Maintain safety zone around chimney
Trim tree branches back to create a safe zone around the chimney and vents.
4. Avoid green wood
Green wood, or any wood laden with resin, should not be burned in a fireplace. These woods produce more creosote than hardwoods. Creosote is flammable and you want to avoid its buildup in your chimney.
5. Small fires = less smoke
Avoid the temptation to create a bonfire-esque pyre—bigger is not always better. A smaller fire generates less smoke and less creosote buildup. Remember, a too large, too hot fire actually can crack a chimney.
6. Use a fireplace guard
Flames create sparks and those sparks must be contained. Always use a fireplace guard: either the unit’s built-in glass doors or a mesh, metal screen that will contain embers and sparks from escaping.
7. No liquid accelerant
Never use liquid accelerant when starting a fire in the fireplace. In addition, avoid burning wrapping paper, boxes, and other holiday debris in the fireplace as these materials can be unsafe to burn.