A fireplace helps heat your home and is cozy for gathering around on cold nights. Stray embers, objects that are too close to the heat, or a blocked chimney can lead to disaster. Learn proper use and handling of fireplace tools and make sure that the chimney is in good shape. Keep your fireplace safe by following these tips.

Fireplace Safety Tips

Make sure that the fireplace’s flue is completely open and free from obstruction. Only burn hardwoods and schedule regular maintenance and cleaning so you’re prepared for a safe and cozy winter season with family and friends.

Burn Hardwood to Keep Your Fireplace Safe

Choosing the right wood is important for fireplace safety. Purchase seasoned wood for cleaner burning and less smoke. Don’t use green wood, softwoods like pine, or chemically treated woods that release hazardous smoke. Softwoods contribute to soot and creosote buildup in your chimney. Creosote is highly flammable and can cause a chimney fire.

Use Fireplace Tools

When starting or tending to a fire, use your fireplace tools. It might be tempting to use your hands to rearrange firewood that isn’t completely ablaze, but flames can flare up unexpectedly, resulting in injury or property damage. Do not handle wood that is still smoldering even if it has been doused with water.

Check the Flue to Keep Your Fireplace Safe

Before you start a fire, check to make sure the flue is completely open. A closed or partially blocked flue increases the amount of smoke that’s produced by burning logs and causes a safety hazard. Make sure it’s open by using a mirror or flashlight. You can also light a match, blow it out, and see if the smoke is pulled up the chimney.

Stay Alert When Around Flames

The best way to keep your fireplace safe is by staying alert and aware. Never leave a fire unattended or allow children to play nearby. An adult should always be present when a fire is burning.

Before building a fire, test your smoke detectors to verify they are working properly. Take the time to completely extinguish a fire when you go to bed at night or if you need to leave the house.

Keep It Clean

The firebox where you burn logs should be cleaned once a week throughout the season. Ash buildup increases the chances that an ember could stray, so remove all except about one inch of the ashes before you light a new fire. A small layer of ash is good for insulation and helps to heat wood faster and reduce smoke.

Checkpoint Home Inspections provides home inspections to customers in northwest Oregon. If you’re buying or selling a home, contact us to request our services.