As a homeowner, you love your fireplace. This feature adds beauty to your home, warms up the space, and creates a soothing atmosphere. You love this appliance, but you also worry that it may cause a house fire.
You want to keep your family and property safe from this danger, but how? In the blog below, we list several tips so you can enjoy your fireplace and keep your loved ones (and property) safe from an accidental fire. Read on to learn how you can prevent fireplace-caused house fires.
- Monitor Your Chimney
Most house fires tend to start inside the chimney-the one area you may not see as often as other fireplace components. Wood-burning fireplaces build up creosote, a flammable residue that can easily ignite if it builds up too much.
As you use your fireplace, keep an eye on the chimney. You should clean it on a regular basis to eliminate creosote buildup. You can also purchase cleaning products that remove creosote from chimneys. For additional tips on keeping your chimney clear, talk to a fireplace contractor.
- Clean Your Fireplace Regularly
Additionally, you’ll want to clean your fireplace on a regular basis. Remove the ash from the floor of the fireplace; vacuum up any remaining debris; and wash the walls and floor with warm, soapy water. As you clean your fireplace, you prevent flammable materials from building up and starting a fire.
- Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Inspect all the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. If a fire accidentally starts in your home, a broken smoke detector can’t warn you so you can extinguish the fire or evacuate the premises. If you have a gas fireplace, you’ll want functioning carbon monoxide detectors to forewarn you of a gas leak.
- Have the Unit Inspected
A professional fireplace technician can check your unit to ensure it works properly. If the technician notices any malfunctioning components, he or she can replace the parts accordingly. Additionally, these professionals have training and expertise to spot any problem areas that could cause an accidental fire.
- Inspect the Gas Lines
If you have a gas fireplace, inspect the gas lines regularly. This inspection lets you notice any dents, holes, or other damage to the line. If the gas leaks before or while you’ve lit a fire, you could have a serious issue on your hands.
Not sure how to spot a leak in the gas line? Talk to a local contractor and have him or her inspect the gas lines during a routine inspection. You can also contact a representative from your utility company to check the line as well.
- Use a Fireplace Cover
Fireplace covers come in various materials, including glass, wrought iron, and mesh. Purchase a cover that suits your personal preferences, but don’t sacrifice functionality for style. The cover acts as a door that keeps embers and sparks from escaping out of the fireplace, reducing the risk for an accidental fire.
- Keep Flammable Items Away From Your Fireplace
Even if this tip seems obvious, it’s still a good one to remember. If you have any flammable objects in your home, keep them as far away from the fireplace as possible. These items could include:
- Nail polish remover
- Extra wood
If you set up your sitting area around the fireplace, make sure that all furniture stays two to three feet away from the unit. This placement prevents the furniture from heating up and catching on fire.
- Know How to Properly Extinguish a Fire
Surprisingly, many house fires start because someone failed to properly put out the fire in their fireplace. Take the following steps to correctly extinguish a fire in your fireplace:
- Use a fireplace poker to spread the embers and remaining wood around the fireplace. Flatten the pile as much as possible.
- Take a fireplace shovel and scoop up the ashes at the bottom of your fireplace. Gently spread them on the wood and embers. Slowly repeat the process until the fire has completely extinguished.
- Pour baking soda on top of the wood and embers. The sodium bicarbonate (an ingredient found in class C fire extinguishers) in the baking soda can prevent the fire from reigniting.
Once the ashes and embers have cooled completely, be sure to clean the fireplace promptly (usually the following morning).
Stock Items in Case a Small Fire Starts
Despite your efforts to prevent an accidental fire, one can still happen. Keep the following items readily on hand in case a fire starts:
- Fire extinguisher
- Fire blanket
- Rope ladder (to exit from high windows)
- Fire safe box (for valuables)
If you can, install a sprinkler system in your home as well. Should a house fire start and begin to spread, the sprinkler system can extinguish the fire (depending on the size and heat level of the fire), reducing the damage your home will sustain.
Implement the above-listed tips to avoid accidental fires. For more information about safely using your fireplace, read through the rest of our blog.