It’s autumn – the perfect season to pamper yourself with a cup of hot cocoa while snuggling up in front of a cozy, crackling fire. Before you light up your fireplace, however, it’s important to follow the fireplace safety tips below to keep your home fires burning – with no surprises:
- Your fireplace should not be used as a furnace. Use your fireplace for a short duration fire – no longer than five hours.
- Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected annually, or after 80 fires, by a certified chimney sweep.
- Use a chimney cap to prevent water damage, to keep animals from nesting and to keep debris from blocking the chimney.
- Before making a fire, open the glass doors, pull aside the screen curtains, and place the kindling, newspaper and logs inside. Next, open the damper and a window (just a few inches). You can check to make sure the smoke will go up the chimney properly by lighting a match, quickly blowing it out and watching the smoke to see if it's going up and out.
- Use a fire screen in front of the fireplace to contain embers and logs. Also, keep a nonflammable rug in front of the fireplace so that sparks won’t melt or otherwise damage your flooring.
- Never overload your fireplace. Two to three logs, or one store-bought log like Duraflame, are enough for a sufficient fire.
- Stay vigilant in keeping young children away.
- Glass doors may develop tough stains from flames and heat. To clean them, make sure the glass doors are cool, then scrape off any thick gunk deposits with a razor blade. Add a squirt of liquid dishwashing detergent to a bucket of warm water, or add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water. Spray or sponge the cleaner on, and then wipe it away with newspaper. Another option is to buy glass cleaner at a fireplace store.
- Fireplace coals can remain hot enough to start a fire for up to three days, so always wait at least that long before removing the ashes. At that point, close the damper to prevent cold air in the flue from stirring up excess dust while you're removing the ashes. Use a shovel to scoop the ashes into a metal container. Store the container far from combustible materials and surfaces and wood floors.