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Fireplace Safety Tips

Winter got here fast! It seems that the fall season took a break this year and winter decided to visit early. Fireplaces are a wonderful way to create warmth and a nice ambiance in your home during this time of year. But even though the warmth may fill the room- safety first.

It is important to get fireplaces checked annually. It’s important to make sure that fireplaces are working and providing warmth safely. Also, a reminder, fireplaces should not be used in place of a furnace. Fireplaces are used for short term/ short duration fires. 

Best practices include hiring a professional to check your fireplace for safety. There are many risks associated with fireplace use- many unseen and thought of. 

Depending on state, city, and other factors (roof accessibility, chimney accessibility, type of chimney)- the average cost of hiring a professional to conduct a maintenance and safety check on a fireplace is $100-$250. 

Wood burning fireplaces should be checked once a year- before the cold strikes. A chimney sweeper can check for buildup, bricks, caps, and other material in the chimney to ensure safety. For fireplaces in use quite often, 2 checks a year is recommended. 

Safety tips: 

  • Match the fire type and wood type. 
  • It’s good practice to refrain from using wood from recently cut trees- they are usually moist. 
  • Keep a metal container nearby for ashes. 
  • Never start the fire with gasoline, best practice is using a dry kindling or organic fire starters.
  • Consider a stainless-steel liner. 
  • Always have a fire extinguisher close by and ready to use.

Electric fireplaces require very little maintenance; however, should still be checked for proper functionality and safety. There are no ashes, or fire starters, or chimney for these. The most important maintenance for these is ensuring proper wiring and making sure that the fireplace is unplugged prior to inspecting- this prevents wire injuries. 

Safety tips:

  • Proper cords are crucial. It is not recommended to use extension cords. 
  • Make sure that the electric fireplace is plugged in to a proper socket; it’s important to make sure that the socket can handle the power. 

Gas fireplaces are very popular. These require safety checks that consist of testing gas pressure, main burner operation, looking for gas leaks, and carbon monoxide. It is advised that prior to any maintenance and safety checks, that the fireplace not be in use for at least 2 hours- the cool down period. 

Safety tips:

  • Make sure there is a clearance zone- no books, fabrics, paper should be within the clearance zone for the fireplace. 
  • Check ventilation. It is important to ensure proper flow to avoid risk of gas and carbon monoxide inhalation. 
  • A barrier is important. Like the wood burning fireplace, a gas fireplace needs a glass or metal as a safety screen. 

Budgets may be a little tight; however, safety has to be priority. Gas and carbon monoxide inhalation can cause extreme harm- even death. Schedule your safety and maintenance inspection today!