Indoor Fireplace Safety

Indoor fireplaces add warmth and ambiance to a home, but before you light that match to get the flames burning bright, it’s important to make sure you are taking proper safety precautions so that your enjoyment doesn’t turn into potential disaster.  It is estimated that approximately 12,000 people or more die each year in the U.S. in residential fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.  While not all of these fires are caused by fireplace use, you can never be too careful when lighting any type of flame within your home.

One potential danger is the possibility of sparks or ash escaping from an indoor fireplace and causing a potential fire outside of the fire box.  To guard against this possibility, it’s important to surround the fire with some type of fire grate.  Glass doors are the surest way to prevent sparks from flying, since they completely enclose the flames, but even wire mesh grates work well at stopping flying sparks or ash from going too far.

Since you can never be too sure that all sparks and ash remain contained in the fire box, you also want to make sure that you keep all combustible materials away from your indoor fireplace.  This means that things like paper, fabric and rugs should be kept clear.  Most fireplaces have a hearth made from a non-combustible material, such as stone, brick or marble, and it’s important to keep this area clear of anything that potentially can ignite or burn.

Aside from what you keep away from your fire outside of the box, you also want to think about what is going on inside as well.  For example, it’s important to make sure your chimney is cleaned out periodically to clear out any build up of ash or creosote.  If allowed to build up, this material can cause a fire within the chimney, which will require a call to the local fire department to contain.  While professional chimney cleaning is always recommended, you can also use a creosote-burning log in between professional cleaning appointments to help break up any stuck-on material within the chimney.

It’s also important to make sure you have a proper draft in your indoor fireplace so that smoke and ash doesn’t blow into the house, but rather heads up the chimney.  Make sure your flue is fully opened before lighting that first match or you may wind up with a house full of smoke.

The type and amount of wood you use can also have an impact on the overall safety of the fire you burn.  For example, heavier woods, like oak and ash, burn hotter while softer woods , like maple or elm, may burn brighter.  You also don’t want to build too large a fire or it can quickly become out of control.  Until you are sure how your fire burns, based on the type of wood you use, the draft and other factors, it’s best to start with a relatively small fire that’s easy to maintain.

Indoor fireplaces can be a wonderful addition to any home, but no matter how pretty they look or how much coziness they add to your indoor space, fire safety must always remain a priority.

For more information about indoor fireplace safety, or to have a fireplace built in your home, contact Millenium Stoneworks in NJ at 732-519-1112 or 347-723-6990.

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