A fireplace is a highly desired feature for most new home buyers. A working fireplace can significantly raise your property value. It can change the entire look and feel of a home. If properly maintained and all necessary safety precautions are put into place, a fireplace will bring a lot of fun and relaxation to any homeowner. There’s really nothing better than the ambiance of a warm and cozy fire on a cold night. So, read along to see what you can do to best keep your fireplace — and the rest of your home - as safe as possible.
Maintenance is Everything
The most important part of being a homeowner with a fireplace is properly maintaining it. Ensure that there is no debris blocking your chimney. You should regularly inspect and clean the chimney. Ensuring that all of your parts are in working order is necessary for the fireplace to function properly.
In addition, it’s smart to have your fireplace cleaned and inspected by a professional twice a year, preferably right before the weather gets cold - when you’re likely to be using your chimney the most and again at the end of the season. The inspector can clean out debris that would inevitably make their way into your home in the warmer months. They can also check that everything is properly sealed up.
Be Careful of What You Burn!
It is preferred that you only burn seasoned and completely dry hardwood. This lowers the likelihood of a buildup of debris in your chimney. Never burn chemically treated wood. Chemically treated wood, along with driftwood, plywood, and particleboard will release chemicals into the air in your home while it burns.
While it’s recommended to only use wood in your fireplace, most people do at least occasionally burn papers or boxes. When throwing items such as cardboard gift boxes or wrapping paper, carefully inspect to make sure you aren’t also throwing out something flammable or dangerous — like a battery that may be hiding at the bottom of a box. Check that anything you're burning isn’t made of plastic — even cardboard with a plastic coating as this also creates fumes that are hazardous.
Most importantly, never take a shortcut by using gasoline or other flammable liquids to start a fire.
Set Up a Safe Zone
Use a metal fire screen whenever the fireplace is in use. This keeps burning embers in and pets and children out. Even if you don’t have young children or pets, it’s smart to always use a firescreen. You don’t realize how easily items can fall into the fire until it’s too late. Keep all flammable items such as drapes, carpets, and other fabrics away and out of reach of loose sparks. Consider purchasing a fireplace non flammable safety rug, which should be available online or at any home goods store.
Check Your Damper!
Before using your fireplace, always check that the damper is open. If not, it will direct all of the smoke into your home and could potentially cause a chimney fire. This should be checked every season before use.
Putting Out a Fire - Yes, There Is a Right Way
Did you know that hot coals can start a fire up to three days after a fire has been inadequately put out? Wait for the ashes to cool, then scoop into a metal container, and drench the coals with water. Never go to bed with any embers still burning.