Fireplace Safety: Fireplace and Chimney Safety Tips

Fireplaces are a staple feature of many living rooms around the world. Their cozy appearance adds a relaxing effect to any home and the heat output is certainly well-appreciated during the cold winter months.

Fireplace Safety Precautions

Fireplace Safety Precautions for your home.

However, It’s estimated that 31% of house fires are directly caused by fireplaces, chimneys, or other poorly maintained flame fixtures. You must practice proper safety precautions when using your fireplace or wood-burning stove. It’s not enough to light a log and hope for the best. Homeowners need to keep on top of fireplace safety tips in order to ensure they have a pleasant burning season without disastrous results.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to ensure homeowners won’t see their residences going up in smoke when they start their first fire of the year.

Hardwood vs Softwood Logs?

Softwood or other unseasoned logs are pieces of wood that have a high moisture content. While they can provide heat at a relatively cheap price, they also come at a very high risk to homeowners. Creosote and soot more rapidly build up when burning softwood logs and over time this can have severe consequences for any home, including chimney fires.

The best way to prevent creosote buildup in fireplaces is by using seasoned, hardwood logs. These logs have been treated with chemicals to reduce their moisture content and therefore keep them dry. They should not be used if you want to avoid having a fireplace fire every day!

Therefore, it is important for homeowners to only choose dried wood and hardwood logs from a reputable provider. This will ensure that soot levels are kept to a minimum as hardwood logs will generally be delivered kiln-dried, which is safest to burn.

Fireplace Safety Screens & Gates

Even when using the driest of woods, it is still possible for embers to escape the fireplace and these too are very hazardous to homeowners. Fireplace safety screens, (also called fireplace safety gates), provide a fire-safe barrier that helps prevent embers from escaping the fireplace without taking away from the visual appeal of a fireplace. In fact, there are many different designs for fire screens and homeowners can choose one that compliments their decor.

However, it is always wise to ensure that it is rated to provide fire protection rather than being strictly ornamental. This is an essential safety feature for you and your family, especially in homes with children and pets.

Where fire screens aren’t practical, then homeowners should consider it prudent to keep a water-based fire extinguisher close to the solid flames that they’re creating. Should the worst happen, then they will be prepared to respond with the appropriate device.

Chimney Safety Tips

Chimney fires can grow large and become dangerous. The best way to avoid these kinds of fires is with chimney safety. Once a fire starts in your chimney, you’ll want to act fast before it spreads or worse still threatens your safety. Some fire chimney safety tips include keeping a water-based fire extinguisher near by.

You may even need to install a smoke detector on top of your chimney. Smoke detectors work by detecting changes in air pressure caused by rising hot gases. If the change occurs quickly enough, the alarm goes off. You can find out how much space you’ve got between your roof and the chimney here.

A chimney cap can help protect against damage to your chimney flue. It’s designed to fit snugly into place and stop debris falling down inside. However, make sure that you don’t use a metal chimney cap because it could melt and cause serious injury. Instead, opt for a plastic version.

When installing a new chimney liner, remember to check its compatibility with your existing brickwork. A good rule of thumb is to match the thickness of bricks lining your chimney wall to the thickness of the liner itself. For example, if you have 6 inch thick bricks, then the chimney liner needs to be no thicker than 3 inches.

Lastly, if you’re burning a cord or more in your chimney per year, it is smart to get an annual chimney inspection.

Fireplace Cleaning Log

Chimney sweeping logs are made from a special type of wood that’s specially designed to remove any creosote buildup in your chimneys. They’re usually called “creosote cleaning” or “chimney sweeping” and they work well as an emergency solution for when you don’t have time to get down on your hands and knees with some brushes, soap, water, etc., the old fashioned way.

You simply light it up like another piece of firewood (be sure not to put them too close!) over the course of one-two hours these bad boys will do all the hard labor!

The most important thing about this tool is that it doesn’t require electricity; so you won’t have to worry about running extension cords around your home. Just set it up where you normally burn wood and let it go at it until it has done what it was meant to do.

It’s also great for removing those pesky cobwebs from your chimney since it uses heat instead of chemicals to break them down. And while we’re talking about heating things up, I’d recommend getting yourself a pair of gloves just in case something happens during the process.

Benefit Of A Fireplace Cleaning Log

There are several benefits to having a fireplace cleaning log handy. First of all, it makes cleanings easier. Since you won’t have to climb ladders or crawl through narrow spaces, you’ll save both time and energy.

Secondly, it saves money. When you buy a fireplace cleaner, you’ll only pay once. That means less clutter and mess in your house.

Thirdly, using a fireplace cleaner helps prevent problems later on. By making sure there isn’t anything left behind after cleaning, you eliminate the risk of clogs forming which would otherwise lead to bigger issues.

Annual Maintenance

Fireplace cleaning should be as ingrained to homeownership as spring cleaning. Before the beginning of the burning season, homeowners should purchase “cleaning logs” that are available from leading hardware stores. These will release cleaning gases into the chimney that loosen stuck-on debris and soot and mostly fall to the fireplace.

These cleaning logs generally provide satisfactory levels of protection but are not a replacement for a regular inspection and cleaning from a qualified chimney sweeper. A full chimney sweep should be performed once every five to seven years depending on how frequently the fireplace is used on an annual basis.

For basic equipment, a fireplace shovel and a bristled brush are great to have around. These tools allow for easy clean-up with soot and ash starts to accumulate.

As always in the event of a fire, be sure to follow a preplanned escape route and evacuate the building from the nearest exit quickly and safely. While there is an obvious potential risk in regard to having an open flame in the home, following fire safety protocol can ensure that you and your family stay safe and warm all season long.

Have You Recently Experienced Fire Damage from Your Fire Place or Chimney?

After a fire, make sure to call Jenkins Restorations to get your home – and your life – back to normal again.