If you’re one of the many new homeowners with a fireplace, adhere to these 7 safety tips to keep your home fireproof, so that you and your family can enjoy your fireplace with no worries:
1. Select & use the proper wood
A safe fire starts with the right type of firewood. Use dry, cured logs that have been split, stacked up and left to dry out for a period of eight to twelve months. Freshly cut wood retains up to 45% of water that leads to a pile up of creosote. Creosote is, an oily, carcinogenic substance that coats your fireplace.
If you want wood that burns for a long time and doesn’t have lots of creosote, buy hardwoods like hickory and white ash. Purchase firewood locally to prevent tree diseases and insects from spreading. Lastly, avoid any wood that’s been treated with chemicals or painted. These items, when lit they emanate toxic fumes and cause corrosion in chimney pipes.
2. Always clean your fireplace
Cleaning your fireplace goes a long way towards safety. Keeping it clean helps limit the emissions made by any fire and save energy. Cleaning your fireplace regularly also gives you cleaner combustion and helps the air flow better throughout. So how often should you clean your fireplace? Well, it depends on how often it’s used, but a good rule of thumb is to have a full clean out of your fireplace twice a year at least. Make sure that the cleaning process also includes a check of the chimney structure and its lining or flue for signs of deterioration and creosote buildup.
3. Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
You should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home, but it is advisable to have at least one of them in close proximity to your wood burning fireplace.
4. Have a chimney cap
Installing a cap on your chimney prevents small animals, like birds and squirrels from climbing in or building a nest in your chimney. It also prevents debris from building up in the chimney brought in by the wind and rain. A wire-mesh cap is usually the best option for a chimney cap.
5. Take care of your damper
The damper is an important part of your fireplace. When closed, it keeps all of your indoor air from rising up and out of the chimney, which can prevent rising costs in your energy bills. It also can keep down drafts of outside air from coming in. There are two types of dampers – the traditional or throat damper, which is a moveable plate that sits within the flue, and the top damper, which is mounted at the top of the chimney. With either one, make sure that it seals properly and keep it closed when you’re
not using your fireplace.
6. Have a fireplace guard in place
Having a fireplace in your home means that you should have something in front of it to prevent any stray embers from coming into your living room. You can opt for a metal mesh fireguard, or if you want it to be a little more appealing, you can install a bi-fold glass fireplace doors that allow the heat to emanate throughout your home.
7. Start fires slowly
To guarantee the best, and safest fire, open up your damper first. This allows all of the smoke to leave your fireplace properly and not collect in the flue, which can draft back into your home. It also limits the amount of creosote buildup. As the fire heats up, add more wood to it to keep the temperature even.
Christopher Smith is a freelance writer when he’s not sampling the best cuisine in his hometown of New York City. Prior to that, he worked in film and television post-production, and counts the honor of working with Eartha Kitt among his milestones.