Warming by a fire on a cold day is an undeniable pleasure, but it shouldn’t be the foremost consideration as regards a fireplace. Safety should always come first. A significant percentage of home fires every year are caused by heating appliances. Here are some safety tips and words of advice for using wood, gas, and electric fireplaces.
The condition of your chimney is a top consideration before starting a wood fire in your fireplace. If you are unaware of when the last chimney inspection took place, how can you be certain there isn’t some sort of problem, such as obstruction in the flue? A chimney inspection may be the first step. The following are more things to consider for a safe wood-burning fire in your fireplace:
· Burn only seasoned firewood, which means wood that has low moisture content. Fires with green or damp wood are terribly inefficient, and they create a lot more buildup of flammable creosote in the chimney flue.
· Do not burn anything else other than aforementioned seasoned firewood. Treated wood releases toxic gases, and fireplaces are not meant to burn anything other than dry firewood.
· For fires to burn efficiently, they need plenty of air. If ashes have built up so that they touch the fireplace grate and block airflow, carefully remove fireplace ashes when they are cold.
· If there isn’t a chimney cap on your chimney, have one installed as soon as possible. They may be considered chimney accessories, but they are essential. Chimney caps serve several purposes, the most important of which is keeping rain, sleet, and snow from pouring straight down the chimney into your fireplace.
· Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home. A smoke detector should be installed above every bedroom door, and life-saving carbon monoxide detectors should also be installed as recommended by manufacturers. These critical safety devices help to protect your family in the event of fires and in the event of a release of deadly toxic gases inside your home.
· Never leave a wood-burning fire in a fireplace unattended.
Compared to wood-burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces are far more convenient to use. They can be turned on with the adjustment of a thermostat or flip of a switch. Maintenance is much easier, as well. Gas fireplaces don’t create flammable creosote deposits. A qualified professional should install the gas fireplace, including the venting, unless it’s a ventless fireplace. Annual maintenance and carbon monoxide detectors are also important. Because of the potential threat of carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s best not to leave a gas fireplace burning overnight—even when carbon monoxide detectors are installed and maintained.
Electric fireplaces simply need to be plugged in, to get heat started or just to enjoy the fireplace effect without heat. The safety tips for an electric fireplace are basically the same as with any electric appliance. The following are a few examples:
· Check connections before use, to be sure nothing is frayed or worn.
· Unplug the electric fireplace when it’s not in use, for safety and environmental reasons.
·Don’t overload a plug socket. It’s recommended that you plug your electric fireplace directly into the wall instead of in an extension adapter.
· If there is an electrical fire, do not throw water on it. Only if it is safe to do so, pull out the plug or switch the unit off. Take no risks. Get everyone out of the home and call 9-1-1.
· Follow manufacturer’s instructions, as far as how close the fireplace can be to combustible items.
Anyone with a gas or wood-burning fireplace should take note that every leading fireplace safety organization says an annual chimney and fireplace inspection is a must. This is important because unseen problems can arise that no one but experts may be able to identify, whether due to their expertise or the equipment they use. In the service area for Chimney Solutions, we provide all chimney and fireplace repairs, installations, inspections, and cleaning. Contact us today at 770-771-5501 for help ensuring the safety of your fireplace.