Winter is in full swing now, even in mild Seattle, and you’re likely using your fireplace regularly, if not daily.
As members of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) we strive to educate our customers about fire safety. Since our start in 2008 we have made it our top priority at Pristine Sweeps to put our customers safety and comfort above all else and over the years we have even learned a thing or two because of our continued education through CSIA, but also through our experience. No matter how long you’ve had a fireplace, it’s never a bad time to review safety precautions or learn something new.
Treat fire as a danger.
Fire isn’t only dangerous because it is hot and can burn you. Fire also produces harmful byproducts like carbon monoxide that can cause illness and even death.
Teach everyone in your home consistent rules for the fireplace.
You won’t have to worry that someone else is being unsafe with your fireplace if you teach them how to operate it correctly and safely. Set boundaries for people in your home whom you don’t want operating your fireplace. This is important! This can be the one thing that keeps you from costly damage and even injury later (not to mention an insurance claim).
Use proper fuel only.
You should only burn proper fuel in your fireplace. Burning trash or clothes can mean sparks or flames flying out of the fireplace, or up the chimney, igniting debris in the flue. Burning improper fuel also increases the production of soot and creosote, which leads to creosote buildup. A creosote buildup is highly flammable and can also obstruct the airflow required for the chimney to work.
Build a proper fire.
Instead of the traditional fire with kindling on bottom, struggling to light the larger fuel on top, try the top-down burn. It is the opposite of everything you know about fire-building, with the larger logs at the bottom, then medium logs and sticks, with the kindling on top. This creates a cleaner burn because the fire, ashes, and coals fall, igniting the fuel below (bonus: less sparks fly from your fireplace as a result).
Remove wood ash.
Remove wood ash before it crowds your fireplace. If too much ash is allowed to build up in your fireplace it can make it difficult to feed your fire without wood, coals, and ashes falling onto the hearth or out of your stove door. Make sure you clean the fireplace or stove of ashes regularly, allowing for some to blanket the bottom to insulate your coals. Ash removal can be dangerous if you don’t have the proper tools which include a metal bucket and a long-handled shovel. Be sure you do not store hot ashes inside the house, as they can ignite for several hours after removed.
While you only use your fireplace for a few months out of the year, it’s important to remember fireplace safety year round. This includes child-proofing your fireplace and scheduling routine maintenance that keeps your fireplace and chimney in tip-top shape.
Schedule with Pristine Sweeps and worry less. There is always a chimney and fire expert waiting to talk to you.