How To Keep Your Wood Burning Fireplace Safe

If you have a wood burning fireplace, then you already know how important it is to keep them well maintained. After all, you’re literally setting a fire inside your home, a fire that can quickly get out of control if your fireplace isn’t properly cared for.

The most important step in fireplace safety is to never, ever leave a burning fireplace unattended. whether you are going to bed, just going outside or down to the corner grocery to make a pick quick up, make sure that you totally extinguish the fire before leaving the house.

You should always keep a fire extinguisher somewhere close to the fireplace and make sure it’s easy to get to quickly. And, you should always replace it if it’s expired. Although, a fire extinguisher can still work even after the expiration date, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

A spark arrester screen can help keep sparks from flying out into the room and starting a fire. And, you should never overload the fireplace with logs. The higher you stack the logs, the less stable they become and can easily roll out of the fireplace into the room. All it takes is a small piece of wood to start an enormous fire.

Soft wood, pine or other items like bundles of newspaper should never be burned in a fireplace. And, never use any type of chemical to start the fire or to get it burning larger. Large fires increase the build of of creosote in the chimney which can catch fire quickly. And, fuels like gas or lighter fluids can cause a sudden burst of flames that can shoot out of the fireplace.

Any type of flammable liquids such as kerosene fuel, lamp oil and even alcoholic beverages should be kept within a safe distance of a fireplace. Even items like drapes, carpet and furniture should be at least four feet away from the fireplace to be safe.

It is highly recommended that you have your fireplace and chimney inspected on a yearly basis, especially if it’s several years old. And, you should also have it inspected if you’ve just purchased the home. Unless you have some way of knowing when it was last inspected, the former owners might not have had any inspections at all!

During an inspection, the fireplace should be checked for any cracks in the bricks or mortar. The flue should be carefully checked and there shouldn’t be any of the flue tiles cracked or missing. The flue should also be checked for clogs or to see if it’s covered in creosote. If there are any cracks in the chimney, you or a contractor can cover the inside with a special concrete that is light weight and can withstand high temperatures.

The height of your chimney must follow a code, regulations state that the chimney should be at least two feet higher than the highest part of your homes roof. The chimney should also be equipped with a spark arrestor cap, the cap will also keep birds, bats and other animals such as squirrels out of the chimney.

Your fireplace hearth should extend out into the room at least 16″ and it should extend past the firebox at least 8″ on each side. It needs to be at least three inches in thickness and be made out of a fireproof material such as brick or stone.

The best way to stay safe while using your fireplace is to just make sure that anything that can burn is kept away from the fire. Take extra pre-cautions when even standing in front of the fireplace in your warm winter robe or long nightgowns. And, never use it for an incinerator for trash!