A wood burning fireplace is an appealing feature of many homes. If you have not replaced your wood burning fireplace with a gas or propane fueled one, there are precautions you should take to stay safe and warm, and to maximize your enjoyment of a cozy fire.

Annual Inspections - Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional to ensure that it’s obstruction free and clear of creosote – a black, oily substance that builds up on the inside walls of the chimney. Because creosote is highly combustible, a thick accumulation creates a serious hazard that can put your home at risk of a major fire. 

Feeding Your Fire – Use dry, well-seasoned hardwood in your fireplace. Avoid using pine and other oily woods, as these will not burn cleanly. If you choose to use manufactured fire “logs”, do not burn them with real wood to avoid the possibility of flare-ups. 

Plan Ahead - Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations, and flammable materials. Use a metal mesh screen that covers the opening, whether you have glass fireplace doors or not. Leave glass doors open while a fire is burning to ensure good ventilation and airflow.

When to Clean - During periods of heavy use, clean the firebox regularly once the embers are cold. Leave about an inch of ash because it acts as insulation, allowing the coals to heat faster and retain heat longer. Do not use a vacuum to clean up fresh ashes, as embers can smolder for as long as several days after the fire is out, creating a real fire hazard. 

Upkeep - Check that vents are unobstructed and able to do their job. Clean the fan and all air circulation passages. In non-wood burning fireplaces, clean and adjust glowing embers and logs for best appearance. 

Cap Your Chimney - Have a cap installed at the top of the chimney to deter animals from entering, help prevent water damage and keep debris from blocking the opening. A spark arrestor will prevent live embers from escaping the chimney and landing on nearby roofs.

Safety First - Always keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergency. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with charged batteries. 

Use Common Sense - Never leave the fire unattended. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed, and keep children and pets away from the fireplace.

Be Community Aware – Many local ordinances prohibit the burning of wood, manufactured logs, or pellets on days or nights when the amount of particulate matter in the air reaches a predetermined level.  Be sure to check with your local air quality district or fire department before lighting your next fire.

Questions? Comments? Looking to buy or sell a house in Miami or Sarasota, Florida? Contact Kijner & Sons International Realty at info@kijner.com

--

Source: 25th Edition of CRS Consumer Article (January 31st, 2013) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection