When the weather outside turns frightful, there’s nothing more delightful than a warming fireplace. However, before you fire up the household hearth, let us remind you of a few simple safety rules that can help make your fireplace warm and cozy instead of a potential health and safety hazard.
- Have your chimney checked annually. Creosote builds up in chimneys and provides fuel for chimney fires. An inspection will reveal the extent of build-up and whether a cleaning is needed. An inspection may also show that small animals have put their summer to good use by building a nest in your chimney, another great source of chimney fire fuel. Most importantly, an inspection can reveal whether the chimney wall has cracks that can allow deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into your home.
- Because sparks can fly, use a fireplace screen to keep them in the fireplace and away from carpeting and other combustible surfaces.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure the fire has been completely extinguished before you leave the house or go to bed.
- Gas fireplaces need to have the jets cleaned and all lines and connections checked to make sure everything is leak-free and in good working order. Dirty jets can cause gas to burn incompletely, resulting in a build-up of carbon monoxide.
- All woods are not created equal. Dry, seasoned hardwoods burn hotter and cleaner. Never burn old lumber, it may have been treated and burning treated lumber can release harmful chemicals.