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The Neighborhood

8 Fireplace Safety Tips
By Jennifer Whipple
10/14/2014 4:37:00 PM


With the rising cost of fuel prices, you may be looking to your fireplace to help cut your home-heating bills. To make the most of your hearth, here are some tips for fireplace cleaning and fireplace maintenance that will help keep your fireplace working efficiently and, even more importantly, safely:


  1. Get the chimney in order. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be swept at least once a year at the beginning of the winter to remove soot and debris. If you burn more than three cords of wood a year, you should have your chimney cleaned twice annually (a cord is 4'H x 8'L). In addition to cleaning, a chimney sweep will also inspect your chimney and chimney liner for cracks, loose bricks or missing mortar. (Find a certified sweep in your area through the Chimney Safety Institute of America.


  2. Cap off the chimney. Install a chimney cap over the top of the chimney to keep out rain, snow, birds, squirrels and debris from entering the chimney. Repair a cap that is damaged or replace one that is missing.

    Chimney Cap

  3. Test your smoke alarms. If you don’t have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, install them near the fireplace and your bedroom areas. Be sure to change the batteries and test them regularly.

  4. Use a spark guard. Guard against flying embers and shooting sparks with a fireplace screen or spark guard. A guard in front of an open flame is especially important when the room is unoccupied. Fireplace screens and spark guards are also a great way to enhance your décor – read our tips on choosing the perfect fire screen and take a look at our entire selection of fireplace screens here.

    fireplace screen

  5. Keep the heat in. Be sure to close the damper when not using your fireplace to prevent warm indoor air from escaping through the chimney and raising your heating bill.

    Close Damper DiagramDiagram heat escaping fireplace
  6. Burn only dry, seasoned hardwoods. Use dry, dense hardwoods like oak or hickory that have been cured (i.e. split, stacked and dried for 6-12 months) as opposed to green, resinous softwoods (like pine or spruce) that result in more creosote buildup. Using the right wood will also help keep your fire going longer.

  7. Start small. A fire that’s too large can wind up cracking your chimney, so keep it small. Smaller fires also generate less smoke, which means less creosote buildup. To burn a fire safely, build it slowly, adding more wood as it heats. Keep the fireplace damper all the way open to increase draw in the early stages, and use kindling (like our popular Fatwood) to start the fire. Place the logs at the rear of the fireplace on a metal grate.


  8. Burn only firewood. The fireplace might seem like a tempting place to dispose of crates, painted wood, scrap wood and lumber, but those treated woods will release chemicals into the air in your home, affecting your air quality.


With these simple guidelines for fireplace cleaning and fireplace maintenance, you’ll be ready to enjoy your fireplace burning brightly, efficiently and safely!



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Tags: fireplace safety, fireplace cleaning, fireplace maintenance
Categories: Hearth


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