10 fireplace safety tips
When a family slows down a bit, and pulls up to a fireplace, great memories can be forged. Also, there’s something special about warming your house with your fireplace rather than the heater, watching a movie, having a cup of coffee, or opening Christmas gifts all seem just a bit more special when it’s done next to a fireplace.
Here at Fredrickson Masonry and Chimney repair, we focus on chimney repair, chimney leak repair, and chimney renovation. Chimney and fireplace safety is so important because you’re dealing with critical factors such as fire, ash, and gases – besides the fact that all those dangerous factors are going up a hole through your ceiling called a “chimney.”
That’s why we wanted to put together a list of the top 10 safety tips for chimney safety, helping you be safe, happy, and able to focus on enjoying your home with your friends, family, or four legged companions.
Fredrickson Masonry and Chimney Repair Minnesota:
We specialize in repairing and renovating chimneys. If you need a chimney cap installed, the grout fixed through tuck-pointing, or you’d like to modernize your chimney with natural stone, we’d be honored to work with you.
1 – Save your Grandchildren from 3rd degree burns with a Safety Mesh on your Fireplace Glass
We’ve heard story after story about children that walk up to any fireplace when it’s on, and place their hands on the glass. There’s nothing more critical than to cover that super-hot glass with the proper protection to ensure that you don’t burn yourself.
Search for “mesh safety screen” to find a solution. This isn’t as much about the chimney, but it’s probably the most frequent accident with gas fireplaces or wood, when children are around.
2 – Only burn firewood!
You don’t want buildup in your fireplace, and you also don’t want strange chemicals circulating in your home. It’s already critical to have proper ventilation through your chimney to get rid of the smoke, but when you toss in strange household items with various chemicals, you risk releasing poisonous gases and affecting the buildup of creosote in the chimney.
3 – Intelligently keep flammable items away from the fireplace
This seems obvious, but be careful about items that could catch fire. Don’t allow clothing, carpets, and holiday decorations, to get anywhere near the chimney or the front where popping embers might ignite them. Can Christmas stockings catch fire? You betcha! Another thing to be careful of, is setting kindling and firewood too close to the fireplace, which can catch fire from a popping ember if it’s not covered properly.
4 – Install a Chimney Cap
When rain and snow can get into the chimney, it can damage the interior chimney flue, and create that sticky creosote situation we were talking about earlier. That moisture collecting in the creosote can start building up tar, and it’s dangerous and destructive.
5 – Never leave a Fireplace or flame unattended
If you didn’t receive your fireman’s chit from boy scouts, you might be a little more relaxed about fires than the Wolf, Bear, or Weblos scouts. NEVER EVER leave a flame, fire, or ember unattended. If you have embers after a fire, you need to ensure that they are completely extinguished afterwards.
If you have a fire going, you should have a responsible adult present at all times. Not only that, but don’t take ashes or embers and just put them in a bucket outside. We’ve met people’s whose entire house has burned down because they didn’t extinguish their ashes with water.
Kill all chances of a fire, and ensure it’s extinguished before it’s left alone.
6 – Verify smoke detectors are working
This seems so simple, but when the smoke detectors start to beep in the middle of the night, it can be tempting to just take the battery out for the evening. Has that ever happened to you? Our smoke detectors only need battery replacement in the middle of the night, waking the baby and causing Fido to tremble in fear.
If you do this, make sure that you set an alarm in your phone to replace those batteries. It’s usually hard to miss ones that need new batteries, because of the horrible beeping, but people often disable them in the middle of the night and forget about them.
7 – Educate the kids about fire safety
Make sure your kids understand why they need to respect fire. It’s such a powerful tool, and if you’re kids aren’t’ properly educated and instructed, mistakes can happen, causing injury or fires.
8 – Open the damper first
This is like forgetting your phone on the top of your car, it only takes one tim to cause some problems and make you hit your head in disbelief of your foolishness. But when you forget to open the damper, the house will QUICKLY fill with smoke, and cause the strong odor of smoke to get stuck in your home for a long time.
Not only that, but the smoke isn’t safe for people to breath in, and you could have some respiratory problems pop up.
9 – Repair your Chimney
Structural problems, leaks, and masonry deterioration is problematic for chimney safety, because it can lead to greater buildup of the creosote, or it can allow for embers to get lodged. If a chimney is in need of repair, call Fredrickson Masonry, but wait.
If you’re not sure if you need a chimney repair, please call Fredrickson Masonry for a free inspection.
10 – Use Firewood that’s been dried or “Seasoned”
When you burn wood that hasn’t been dried for 6-12 months, you’ll experience a higher level of creosote build up. Creosote is different than soot, because creosote is the black tar that builds up from burning wood. Soot on the other hand, is the result of burning oils and gas.
Creosote build up is a totally different deal when it’s being cooled too quickly, because it will stick to the sides of the chimney more. When you burn wood that’s not as dry, the tar will more easily collect on the inside of the chimney, and the moisture will turn it more into a wet mixture.
This is a much worse type of build up because it it will then catch other debris and create a “chimney fire fluff” that can easily catch fire.
If you burn wood that’s not been dried, you increase the risk of having a stickier creosote buildup, and then you’ll be more susceptible to fires.
Take care of your family, and only burn wood that’s nice and dry, which is also called “seasoned.”
Free Chimney Inspections
If you live in the Minneapolis or Metro area, we will go up on your roof for you. Falling off a roof is not good, and we’ll be able to take pictures of anything that looks questionable.
If you’d like to schedule a chimney inspection, please fill out the form below.