As the weather gets colder, and homeowners start to fire up their wood stoves and fireplaces, the use of these appliances increases fire danger for millions of families around the country. Whether a family uses a wood stove as a primary heating source, or whether the fireplace simply provides some comfort on a mild Los Angeles night, families need to remain current on fire safety and fireplaces.
According to the United States Fire Administration, common causes of residential fires include improperly maintained chimneys and stovepipes. Homeowners must not forget to maintain fireplaces, as well as ensure their home alarm safety system is hooked up to the smoke detectors.
Soot and Creosote Prevention
One of the best ways to keep fireplaces safe is to reduce the buildup of a contaminant called “creosote” inside the chimney. Creosote can impede airflow and increase fire danger. Preventative maintenance and smart use of the fireplace should ensure low buildup during the season. For example, when a fire burns in the fireplace, glass doors should remain open. This helps improve airflow and aid in the combustion process, which reduces sooty buildup in the chimney.
In addition to taking steps to reduce the buildup of soot or creosote, a yearly cleaning of the fireplace as well as an inspection should reduce fire danger. Many systems in the home need to be inspected on a yearly basis and this includes installations such as chimneys and devices like wood stoves. The company hired to perform the inspection should specialize in chimney operation and maintenance.
Smart Habits During Fireplace Usage
A clean chimney is a safe chimney, but there are also a few things to remember about safe operation of a fireplace. For example, the fire should never be lit with a flammable liquid. Additionally, materials like cardboard and trash shouldn’t be burned, even though it might seem like a good way to recycle. Also, use wood meant for burning, not moist wood that can increase the rate of contaminant buildup in the chimney.
Additional Safety Devices
All homeowners know that installation of smoke detectors offers essential protection against fire danger, but those systems aren’t meant to sit on the wall like a decorative painting. Test the smoke detectors on a quarterly basis and make sure the home alarm safety system will notify the alarm company if fire breaks out and assistance from the fire department is needed.
Installation of a carbon monoxide detector is another essential device for homes with fuel-burning appliances, and the alarm company can suggest devices that will pair well with the smoke detectors used in the home.
Another helpful component to ensure safety of the fireplace is the installation of a thermometer in the flue to keep track of the temperature and make sure that creosote buildup isn’t causing dangerously high temperatures that could result in fire. Creosote is incredibly combustible, and if it gets too hot or thick, a chimney fire could erupt.
With an open flame burning inside a home, there is always some danger of fire even if a family has taken every necessary precaution to prevent a wayward spark from turning into a home fire. Revisit fire safety each season when temperatures dip and the family starts using the fireplace. Also, make a plan for evacuation just in case of an emergency.