Seasonal Safety Tips for Fireplaces and Chimneys

Today I have some safety tips for fireplaces and chimneys. The month of December is all about safety.

This is the time of year when everyone that has a fireplace, wants to prop their feet up and sit by the fire. Sitting by a warm fire is definitely one of my guilty pleasures.

It’s also the perfect time for a reminder about fireplace and chimney safety. It is estimated that there are approximately 14,000 fires started every year by fireplaces.

In spite of all the pleasure they bring us, we also need to remember that whenever you are dealing with an element as potentially dangerous as fire, knowledge really is power.  Here are some simple steps you can take to help you stay safe.


The Basics – Safety Tips for Fireplaces and Chimneys

Today I want to talk about safety tips for fireplaces and chimneys. Fireplaces are typically one of two types; masonry types built entirely of bricks, stones or block and mortar, or prefab metal fireplaces built in a factory with a metal chimney.  This metal chimney may be encased with brick on the exterior for cosmetic reasons.  These safety tips apply to both types of fireplaces when burning wood.


Speaking of Firewood

  • Only use seasoned firewood. It produces more heat and it’s easier to start a fire. Wood that has been seasoned for 6 months only contains 20-25% moisture where newly cut firewood may contain up to 45% water.
  • Never burn scrap wood, painted wood or other treated wood. They can release harmful chemicals into your home.
  • Avoid the urge to build a “roaring fire”.  This type of fire can start a dangerous chimney fire from soot and creosote.


Never Burn Christmas Wrapping Paper

One of the biggest safety tips for fireplaces and chimneys I can give you is this.  As tempting as it might be to throw all of that wrapping paper in the fireplace, don’t do it!

It’s dangerous and can also cause a chimney fire.


Have Your Chimney Inspected Annually

It is vital if you burn wood in your fireplace to have the chimney inspected at least once a year and have it cleaned regularly. This can mean the difference between safely using your fireplace and disaster. This is one job you don’t want to put off.  Put it on your calendar to have your chimney checked every spring, and you won’t be hit with this expense in the winter as you prepare for the holidays.


Here Are 6 Additional Tips to Help Keep You Safe

  1. Place seasoned firewood or logs at the rear of the fireplace on a grate. Never use flammable materials to start the fire.
  2. Be sure you have a fire screen in place to catch sparks. If you have glass bi-fold doors, keep them open when burning a fire.
  3. Be sure to keep the hearth area clear. Don’t place furniture, pillows or other flammable materials within 36 inches of the fireplace.
  4. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
  5. Keep tree branches at least 15 feet away from the top of the chimney.
  6. Install a chimney cap to keep debris and animals out of the chimney. This also helps keep out the rain and snow.

I hope you found these simple safety tips for fireplaces and chimneys helpful.

*This article was originally published in December of 2012.


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