Fireplace Tips from STL Rent A Box

Fireplace Safety   

Chilly days are upon us and it’s time to cozy up to the fireplace with some cocoa, in your favorite chair, a book…but STOP! Have you considered fireplace safety 101? Check out these tips, you’ll be glad you did!

  • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a certified professional ANNUALLY.
  • When choosing your wood to burn, be choosy! Buy only seasoned hardwood: wood that has been outdoors through summer and fall for at least 6 months. How do you know if it’s good if you didn’t chop & cure it yourself? Look for wood that is darker in color and has a hollow sound if you knock it against another piece. Look for wood that has cracks in the grain on the end. Stay clear of damp soft wood such as pine. These quickly coat flues with creosote, a flammable, tar-like product of combustion. Not using suggested seasoned hardwoods, puts you at risk of flue fires.
  • Stack your wood pile at least 30 feet from your house and store it off the ground. The less moisture you have in your wood, the better fire you will create.
  • Be sure not to use an excessive amount of paper when starting a fire. Burning paper can be drawn up in the chimney to ignite creosote or it can land and burn the roof. Avoid burning wrapping paper too because the inks on the paper often contain toxins that, when burned, might not necessarily float up the chimney but into your home.
  • Don’t build small fires. A small fire keeps the flue cold which will attract creosote that will stick rather than going up with the smoke.
  • While your fire is going, keep the mesh barrier closed or screen up to prevent embers from sparking out. Also leave the glass doors open. The fire needs oxygen to continue burning and at the same time it keeps the creosote from building up.
  • When there is no fire burning make sure to keep the glass doors closed to keep the cold air out of the room.
  • Dispose of ashes from burned fire in a metal can with a tight-fitting lid. These should be stored outside, on concrete, at least 10 feet from the house and any other building structures. Even ashes thought to be cold from fires that were out for several hours, even days, have ignited containers or picked up by winds and burned undetected in garages or on patio decks until heavy fire loss was detected. NEVER empty ashes into a trashcan. Always saturate with water before full disposal.
  • Above all, make sure your home is equipped properly with smoke alarms throughout, on each level including the basement, and every bedroom. Test them monthly and change the batteries every six months. It is also necessary to keep several fire extinguishers in the home, one near the fireplace, the kitchen, laundry room, garage, and basement. Everyone in the home should be educated on how to use the fire extinguisher as well.
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