As warm weather turns cold, one of the coziest ways to stay toasty inside when the temperature drops is a fireplace. Traditional wood-burning fireplaces were far more common before we began installing gas heaters in homes. However, the novelty of a fireplace never lost its charm, and they remain popular to this day.
Along with wood-burning fireplaces, many homes may have a gas-powered fireplace or an electric one. Regardless of which one you own or plan to own, it’s important to be cautious when operating a fireplace. One wrong move could spell disaster, which is why we created these fireplace safety tips to help protect your home.
Wood-Burning Fireplace Safety Tips
Old-school, wood-burning fireplaces require the most maintenance and care. If your home has an authentic wood-burning fireplace, here’s what you should do to ensure a safe wood-burning process:
- Be careful with the wood you use for the fireplace. Some types of wood are unsafe for burning or inhalation, or they could leave behind a residue that builds up in your chimney. Poisonous trees, like poison sumac or poison ivy, must be avoided, as well as old and moldy wood and artificial wood, among others.
- Make sure your chimney is clear before each burn. Small animals like birds and squirrels may create nests in your chimney. Larger pieces of debris may also block it. If your chimney is clogged, there is an increased smoke inhalation risk, The debris can also cause substantial damage to your chimney, roof, or home if ignited. You should also have your chimney checked annually by a professional.
- Clear excess ash from the pit before each burn. Too much ash restricts the air supply and creates more smoke. There shouldn’t be more than one inch of ash at the bottom of the pit.
- Make sure the area around your fireplace is completely clear before burning. A good rule of thumb is to create at least a three-foot perimeter around the pit to mitigate fire hazards.
- Never leave a burning fireplace unattended.
- Always have a fire extinguisher on hand. It’s important to train kids on how to use one in case of an emergency.
Gas Fireplace Safety Tips
As the years progressed, wood-burning fireplaces became less of a necessity, so they were slowly phased out in modern home designs. Gas-powered fireplaces soon rose in popularity thereafter. A key benefit to a gas fireplace is they don’t require a chimney and are easier to control. Here are some additional safety tips to ensure safe operations:
- Most gas fireplaces contain a protective barrier positioned in front of the flames. Make sure this screen is properly secured and undamaged before each use. If you notice an issue, you should have the barrier replaced immediately. Cracks in the screen can allow flames to escape.
- Make sure your gas fireplace is completely off after use. There is a carbon monoxide inhalation risk if you accidentally leave the gas on.
- It’s important to schedule a yearly inspection for your gas fireplace. A qualified professional can conduct a tune-up and ensure there aren’t any gas leaks.
- Like a wood-burning fireplace, you should never leave a gas fireplace unattended.
- Create a three-foot perimeter around the gas fireplace.
Electric Fireplace Safety Tips
The second alternative to a wood-burning fireplace is an electric fireplace. These operate more like aesthetic heaters. Electric fireplaces are much easier to move around your home at your leisure. However, there are mountable installations available if you desire. Electric fireplaces are the safest home option. However, there are a few safety concerns you should know about:
- Make sure the outlet is secure and does not have any faulty wiring.
- Avoid placing drinks and liquids on the electric fireplace. Condensation or spills can leak into the fireplace, increasing the risk of an electrical fire.
- Don’t place objects directly behind, beside, or in front of it. If items are too close, they can overheat, melt, catch fire, etc.
- Clear the fireplace of any dust or debris before starting.
- Electric fireplaces are meant for indoor. Don’t take them outside.
- Do not modify your electrical fireplace. If you’re having an issue with your fireplace, look at the owner’s manual for guidance or contact a professional.
Protect Your Home Against Fire and Smoke Inhalation Risks
Although fireplaces are a nice addition to our homes, there are increased fire and smoke inhalation risks associated with them. That is why it’s important to always have fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the same room as your fireplace. If a fire emergency ever occurs, you’ll immediately be alerted and can react quickly to protect yourself and your family.
Don’t let the risks stop you from enjoying a cozy fireplace in your home. With the proper safety precautions, you can ensure your home and family remain safe. If you would like to learn more about how ADS Security can help keep your home protected, feel free to contact us today.