5 Quick Tips to Fireplace Safety

Shannon Lee

A fireplace and majestic chimney can be one of the charming highlights of an old house. But before you fire up the logs to ward off the heat, keep safety in mind. Fireplaces and chimneys play a part in 42 percent of all home-heating fires, so take care before lighting the logs--you don't want your old house to become a statistic!

5 Tips for Fireplace Safety

You can enjoy the crackling sound and delightful warmth of your fire and stay safe at the same time. These tips can help:

  1. Have it inspected. Before you light the fire for the first time, hire a seasoned chimney sweep. The chimney sweep can pinpoint chimney problems, fireplace deterioration, and other issues that can make your warm fire a safety hazard. Go to the Chimney Safety Institute of America for a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep? in your zip code.
  2. Keep it capped. Capping the top of the chimney prevents rain, leaves, small branches, and other debris from finding its way into your chimney. It also prevents wildlife from building nests in the chimney during the warmer months.
  3. Replace the liner. A cracked or deteriorating chimney liner can be a fire hazard. Replacing the liner is an easy job, but hire a professional to make certain it's done properly. You can never be too careful when it comes to the risk of fire in your old house!
  4. Corral the sparks. Use a metal grate or doors on your fireplace to prevent sparks from flying out into the room. When you tackle a remodel, consider extending the hearth further into the room for even more protection from flying embers.
  5. Learn to build a proper fire. Building a fire in your fireplace isn't as easy as throwing on a few logs and striking a match. There is a proper way to build a fire to prevent the logs from spilling out of the firebox. Start with dense wood that has been split and dried. Stack the logs at the rear of the fireplace on a metal grate, and use plenty of kindling, such as small branches and rolled-up newspapers. Make sure your fire is the appropriate size for your fireplace. When you light the logs, use a long-handled match, kindling, and plenty of patience--don't use flammable liquids. They might be faster, but that doesn't mean they are safe.

Start planning for the cool weather long before it arrives. Have your fireplace inspected, repair any problems, and settle in for a cozy, warm, and safe winter.


About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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