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The Fiery Demon in Your Fireplace
In two of my previous articles, I addressed the fiery demons that might be lurking in your outdoor fire pit and your barbeque grill. The final demon that I want to talk about is the one that could be in your fireplace and chimney.
Just about everyone loves roaring fires in a fireplace. In addition to providing a cozy ambiance, they warm our fingers and toes during “winter” in Savannah. But because a fireplace and chimney’s primary purpose is the containment of fire and heat, safety is of utmost importance. The following are a few safety tips for wood-burning and gas fireplaces.
Wood-Burning Fireplace Safety Tips.
- Never use accelerants to start a fire in your fireplace, and never burn painted or pressure-treated wood.
- Ensure you have a chimney cap installed to keep debris and animals out of the chimney.
- Choose the right wood. Seasoned oak and other hard woods burn long and hot and are preferred. Avoid using soft woods like pine, which contain resins that will burn quickly and lead to the deposit of creosote in the chimney, which is a leading cause of flue fires.
- Keep the hearth area clear. Decorations situated too close to the fireplace could easily catch fire. Keep furniture at least 36 inches from the hearth.
- Use a fireplace screen. Popping logs can produce flying sparks and embers, which can burn carpets and flooring.
- Have your chimney inspected periodically by a chimney professional and cleaned as necessary.
Gas Fireplace Safety Tips
- Always use a fireplace screen, even if your gas fireplace has a tempered glass window. These glass windows can reach 400°F and remain hot to the touch for an hour after the flame is turned off. Young children are curious about fire and can be badly burned by touching the glass.
- Keep flammable materials at a distance. The fireplace’s glass, metal, and ceramic components reach extreme temperatures during use and can ignite flammable objects such as holiday decorations. As with wood-burning fireplaces, keep furniture at least 36 inches from the hearth.
- Ensure your gas fireplace is properly installed and vented. Like all gas appliances, gas fireplaces produce carbon monoxide. Improper venting can put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Never burn wood in a gas-only fireplace. Gas-only fireplaces do not have the proper venting or insulation to support a wood fire. This could lead to the release of toxic fumes into the house and radiate extreme heat into the walls surrounding the fireplace, causing an unintended fire.
Whether your fireplace is wood-burning or gas, you should have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home, and you should check the batteries on a routine basis.