Tips for a Clean, Safe, & Well-Maintained Fireplace This Winter
Who doesn’t enjoy warming up to cozy flames indoors when the weather is nippy outdoors? A fireplace is a pleasure in winter but safety depends upon proper maintenance. Things can go wrong anytime there are open flames inside a home. For example, if a chimney isn’t cleaned routinely, a fire in the fireplace could easily lead to a hazardous chimney fire that increases the risk of a house fire. The real danger, however, lies in failing to follow guidelines for safety.
Peripheral Safety Steps, if you have a Fireplace
Not all of your safety procedures related to a fireplace are in the chimney or firebox.
A potential danger that occurs as a result of lighting a fire in your home is that toxic gases meant to go up the chimney could go inside your home. One of those gases is carbon monoxide. This is the same type of gas that can easily lead to fatal poisoning, unless operational carbon monoxide detectors are in the home. Smoke alarms are equally important, actually. But the added danger of carbon monoxide poisoning is that it is invisible, tasteless, and odorless. Only an alarm can give warning in time to be sure you safely escape. Sometimes people begin to get ill and know something is wrong but by that time a person can’t usually escape in time to survive.
Combustibles at a Distance
Combustibles in the home also present a danger, if positioned too close to flames or if exposed to flames due to a damaged chimney lining or firebox. Draperies, furniture, rugs, and carpets, should be a safe distance away from the fire. Wooden mantels and other items above the metal plate at the fireplace opening (the lintel) need to be at least 12 inches away. If a chimney flue or firebox has a breach as small as a tiny crack, combustible materials in the home can be exposed to the intense temperatures and end up catching fire, leading to a very dangerous home fire.
Proper Handling of Ashes
The ashes in the fireplace can be extremely dangerous. They should only be cleaned after the fires have gone out and the ashes are cool. Wear a dust mask and gloves, to help prevent breathing in too much soot. An added concern is that the ashes could seem to be cold but there could be hot embers buried in the ashes. It’s essential to place the ashes in a metal container that has a lid and then place the ash bucket away from the home on the ground but not on a wooden porch or other parts of the home. Many hazardous fires have been caused by mishandling of ashes. Clean out ashes whenever they impede airflow, which is when they touch the bottom of the grate.
Important Fireplace and Chimney Safety Tips
The following are more tips for maintaining a clean and safe fireplace this winter:
· Schedule an annual chimney inspection performed by our professional, trained, and certified technicians at Chimney Solutions.
· Have your chimney cleaned when 1/8 inch or more of soot has accumulated in the flue.
· Do not light a fire in a chimney or stove if you don’t know the condition of the chimney. This is how many house fires start every year. The biggest threat is that there could be obstructions in the chimney, including possibly birds’ nests or too much creosote. This would cause the smoke to enter the home, in addition to toxic fumes.
· Burn only seasoned wood that has dried out sufficiently.
The ultimate way to enjoy a fireplace or stove is with the knowledge that all steps have been taken for maintenance and safety. A blazing fire in the home is one of the best parts of what could otherwise be a cold and gloomy season. Contact our skilled chimney technicians at Chimney Solutions today to ensure the safety of your fireplace or wood stove.