Tips for a Safe Fireplace

December 12, 2019

Mom and daughter sit in a chair reading beside their brick fireplace that has a fire going

Be sure to keep up the maintenance on your fireplace to avoid dangerous chimney fires.

The main reason dangerous chimney fires start is due to creosote. Creosote is created when oils from the wood are burned. Smoke then travels up the chimney and cools, condensing with water and other chemicals inside the chimney, creating buildup that is highly flammable. That is why it is important to clean out your fireplace often, especially before the first fire of the year!

We have provided some tips on fireplace safety to avoid those dangerous chimney fires. 

Schedule an annual chimney inspection. Schedule a professional chimney sweep to visit your home once a year to inspect your chimney and venting system to look for damages or dangers invisible to the naked eye. The chimney sweep can repair any damages to the chimney, or clean out any soot or creosote that could be a danger to your home.

Clean your chimney when the build-up inside is 1/8-inch thick. You could call a professional to come to your home to clean it for you, or you could do it yourself with a chimney brush - only if you know how! Be sure to clean out any ash and wood debris from the inside of the fireplace. Once you are finished cleaning the chimney, allow the dust and debris to settle and sweep it out with a shop vac. Be sure to keep all windows and doors shut to prevent gusts of wind from blowing that dust and soot inside your home. 

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Only burn wood that is seasoned and has had six months to dry out. Doing this will minimize creosote build-up. Never use chemicals such as gasoline or kerosene to start a fire inside your fireplace. These chemicals are extremely flammable and can increase the temperature of the chimney very quickly, increasing the risk of a chimney fire. Also avoid cloth, cardboard or glossy paper as a fire starter as they give off toxic chemicals when burned. Use dried sticks or old newspaper when starting a fire.

Always put the fire out before you go to sleep. Spread out the hot embers and cover them with ash to smother the embers. Then cover the wood and ash with baking soda to extinguish any remaining hot coals inside the fireplace. Once the fireplace has cooled, scoop the ashes into a metal bucket and discard safely. 


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