There’s nothing quite like enjoying a roaring fire in the cold months of winter with our friends and family. The crackling of the wood and extra heat radiating on our hands and feet feels downright magical. However, owning a fireplace isn’t always glamorous – it comes with its own set of rules and responsibilities. Enjoying a warm fire requires a clean and safe fireplace.
Here are a few great tips and reminders to help you maintain your fireplace and ensure that your winter is nice and warm this year! (Family Handyman, 2019)
Don’t Keep It on All the Time
Remember, your fireplace isn’t your furnace and should never take the place of a heat source. Fireplaces aren’t built for long-time use, so be sure to use it for short-duration fires; shoot for no longer than 5 hours.
Keep Children and Pets Safe
When you have your fireplace in use, it’s vital to never leave your child or pet unattended as this could easily cause a tragic accident to occur. Even if you are nearby, children should never be permitted to play with fireplace tools and equipment or close to the fireplace. Make sure that your child knows how important fire safety is.
Use the Right Tools
Hands never belong in a fireplace that is in use. When using your fireplace, be sure to use the proper fireplace tools to handle the burning logs, even if you just need to shift something slightly. Even brief exposure can cause burns or, at the worst, an unexpected accident.
Keep the Doors Open
Do you have glass doors on your fireplace? If so, keep them open to let the air be drawn up to cool the chimney. Remember to keep the screen closed, though. This will prevent little sparks from jumping onto your carpeting or hardwood. (Efireplace, 2020)
Keep a nonflammable rug in front of the fireplace so that sparks won’t damage your flooring. You can find these rugs at a fireplace supply store.
Clean the Doors
Glass doors on a fireplace can develop some pretty tough stains from the flames and heat, so be sure to take care of them! When the glass is cool, scrape off any thick deposits with a razor blade, then add a squirt of liquid dish washing soap to a bucket of clean warm water, sponge the cleaner on, and scrub! Wipe the liquid away with a newspaper or a microfiber towel to make it shine.
Cap the Chimney
Chimney caps are very useful! They help prevent water damage to the chimney, keep animals from nesting inside, and prevent debris from blocking the chimney, which helps prevent carbon monoxide. Put one of these on your chimney to stay safe. Additionally, invest in a spark arrestor to help prevent sparks from flying out, which could start a fire on your roof or the lawn. (Direct Energy, 2020)
Treat the Coals with Care
Coals in the fireplace can remain hot enough to start a fire for 3 days, so treat them with great care. Wait until they’ve cooled before removing any ashes (and never use a vacuum to remove the ashes). Open the damper so the airborne ash will be drawn up the chimney instead of the room. Don a dust mask, open a window in the room, and use a shovel to scoop the ashes into a metal container. Store this container far away from flammable or combustible materials, surfaces, and wood floors.
Clean the Firebox
Fireboxes need weekly cleaning (at least) when they are used in the cold months. Leave about an inch of ash because it will act as insulation and allow the coals to heat up faster and retain heat more easily during your next use. Remember to keep the firebox clean during the warm months.
Get It Inspected
Make sure to have a certified chimney sweep thoroughly inspect and clean your chimney. It should be checked at least once a year or after about 80 uses. (Healthy Children, 2020)
So, what are you waiting for? Get your fireplace cleaned and prepped for use and prevent burns, injuries and even structural fires. Have a fire extinguisher on hand and be ready to quickly put out a small flame.
What is your favorite fireplace activity? When it’s cold outside and a fire is roaring, you can enjoy family game night, cocoa, movie night, even a camp-out indoors. There’s just something magical about the scent of burning wood crackling to make special nights even more special.
Brougham, R. (2019, October 30). 13 Steps on How to Use a Fireplace Safely. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.familyhandyman.com/list/13-must-do-steps-to-make-sure-your-wood-burning-fireplace-is-safe-and-ready-for-winter/
Champagne, C. (2020, November 13). The Complete Guide to Fireplace Safety. Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.efireplacestore.com/fireplace-safety-precautions.html
16 Must-Read Fireplace Safety Tips. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.directenergy.com/learning-center/16-must-read-fireplace-safety-tips
Fireplace Safety Tips for Families. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2020, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Fireplace-Safety_Tips.aspx