As the temperatures chill and you look forward to evenings spent by the fire, give some thought to fireplace safety, especially if you burn wood. The following tips will protect you and your family while you enjoy one of winter’s most favorite traditions.
- Before the season is in full swing, have a chimney sweep clean the chimney and inspect your fireplace. Over time, smoke solids can build up on the chimney’s walls. These creosote deposits are highly flammable and will ignite. Over time, the deposits harden into a tar that requires a professional to remove them to increase fireplace safety. A chimney fire is difficult to catch, since the flames and smoke are hidden from view.
- Check the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. The CO detectors need to be at least 15 feet from the fireplace or gas furnace to avoid false alarms and enhance fireplace safety. Both the smoke and CO detectors should be at eye level or higher.
- A major enhancement to fireplace safety is keeping a fire extinguisher within a reasonable distance and familiarize yourself and others with how to use it.
- Lower the threat of chimney fires by burning seasoned (dry) wood. Avoid burning pine (including pine Christmas decorations), because the oils will coat the chimney. Green (wet) wood is another threat to fireplace safety because it forms more creosote deposits on the chimney walls.
- Avoid overloading the fireplace, and keep the logs toward the back of the fireplace instead of near the front for greater fire safety. Don’t use the fireplace to burn paper waste or trash.
- Do not use starter fluids meant for barbecues (or any other highly flammable fluids) to start the fire. A lighter and solid fuel tablets are much safer.
- Close the fireplace screen or doors once the fire is going strong, because some woods throw sparks in all directions. Should one land on the floor or furniture, it could start a fire.
- Never leave the fire unattended.
- Once the ashes have cooled, shovel them into a metal container and place them outside on a concrete surface. Do not place them directly into the dumpster until they are cold.
For more information about fireplace safety and your home’s heating system, contact the pros at Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric. We provide trusted HVAC services for Yuma-area homeowners.