As a homeowner, it’s important to make certain that your fireplace is in tip-top condition before using it each season. Here are some essential fireplace safety tips to help you properly maintain and use your fireplace.
Burn Only Seasoned Firewood in Your Fireplace
Before lighting your fire, open the damper to allow proper airflow so the smoke can get out. Only use seasoned wood or logs in your fireplace; these are safe fuels that will not release any toxic fumes into the air. Never burn trash or treated wood or lumber in your fireplace. Styrofoam, rubber, and most shiny items release toxic fumes that are unsafe to breathe.
Practice Fireplace Safety with the Right Tools
A proper set of fireplace tools are essential to fireplace safety and are recommended for good reason. These are tools such as stokers, tongs, and brushes. They help you to safely stoke the fire, shift the logs, and clean out the firebox.
Remember to never, ever, use your bare hands; this may lead to severe burns. Invest in heavy fireproof gloves to use whenever you’re tending to the fire. This will keep you safe from heat and burns.
Look for Damage and Cracks
When preparing your fireplace, always keep a lookout for any sign of damage or cracks on the masonry. Any visible cracks should be sealed to ensure fireplace safety. It’s best to hire a professional to make any repairs so that it’s done correctly. If you are planning on fixing visible damage yourself, make sure that the materials will be able to withstand the scorching temperatures of the fireplace.
Fireplace Safety: Use the Fireplace Doors
If your fireplace has doors, keep them open when a fire’s burning and use a fireplace screen. The primary purpose of the fireplace doors is to keep drafts out of your home when the fireplace is not in use. During use, however, the extreme heat from the inside of the fireplace may crack the glass. For fireplace safety, always keep the doors open when there’s a fire.
Remove ashes from the firebox about once per week, or as needed. Always leave about an inch of ash in the bottom of the firebox. Only clean out ashes once a fire has completely cooled, which may take a couple of days. Ashes still often contain hot coals and can stay hot for days. Use a fireplace shovel to remove them and place them in a metal bucket. Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean your firebox.
Never Leave a Fire Unattended for Fireplace Safety
At the end of the day, what applies to gas stoves also applies to the fireplace—never leave an open flame unattended. Don’t go to sleep for the night with the blaze still roaring away. For proper fireplace safety, make sure an adult is always present and don’t allow children to play with any of the fireplace tools.
While prevention is better than cure, it is better to be safe than sorry. Keep an easily accessible fire extinguisher close by, visible to all—just in case.