6 Tips for Building Safe, Beautiful Fireplace Fires
Not all fires are the same, and neither are all burning techniques. You want your fireplace fires to be visually breathtaking, but you also want them to be safe in every way. Here are six tips to accomplish both.
1. Warm the flue first
If you live in a cold-weather area, the air in your chimney flue may be very cold when you go to start a fire. Cold air is heavier and denser than warm air, so the smoke from your fire may back up into your house if it can’t get through cold flue air.
Light a rolled-up newspaper and hold it up beyond the damper for a minute or so. You can also use a portable hair dryer. This should warm up the flue air sufficiently.
2. Burn only seasoned firewood
Logs after they’ve been chopped typically require six months to dry out enough to be useful for fires in a fireplace. Firewood that’s damp doesn’t burn fully and produces far more smoke than dry wood. This can lead to smoke backing up into your home and carrying with it deadly carbon monoxide.
Excess smoke also will add significant amounts of flammable creosote to your chimney flue. Creosote causes most chimney fires in the U.S. each year and can be kept to a minimum through annual chimney sweeping by a certified chimney technician.
3. Don’t over-fill the firebox
It may be cold outside – and inside – but over-stacking your firebox with logs for a fire isn’t a smart idea. Too many logs may create more heat than your fireplace/chimney system is built to handle.
As with burning wet wood, excess logs all burning at one time will produce extra smoke that can end up in your room and cause more creosote to form in your flue.
4. Use wood from trees for fireplace fires, and nothing else
This is a very important fireplace-safety tip. With the exception of a little balled-up black-print newspaper to get your fire started, nothing should burn inside the firebox except natural wood in its natural state.
5. Never use accelerants to start a fire
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that lighter fluid or other accelerants will lead to a better fire. They will lead to a potentially dangerous fire and create a safety risk for anyone near the fireplace. Not only do accelerants give off poisonous gases, 0but they can also cause an explosion.
6. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually
Schedule a licensed, certified chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney once a year. Cleaning will remove creosote, which is responsible for most chimney fires each year in the U.S. Inspections will let you know of early signs of trouble so you can get it repaired fast. Following this tip could save your and your family’s lives.
Felgemacher Fireplace Shop of Cheektowaga, NY, believes safety is the #1 concern when operating a wood or gas fireplace. We hope these tips are useful to you.
Visit us at 2727 Broadway Suite 5 when you’re in the market for a new fireplace, stove or fireplace insert. Our field division, Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney, is ready to help with all your chimney cleaning, chimney and fireplace repair and chimney inspection needs. Talk with an expert at (716) 482-1820.