Having a fireplace offers a great way to heat your living space while adding a beautiful, warm glow to the room. However, it's important to use the fireplace safely to prevent potential injury. If you've never had a fireplace in your home, or if you need a safety refresher course, here are some things to keep in mind.
Use Proper Wood
Not all wood is meant for use in your fireplace. For example, using old pieces of painted or treated lumber from your deck demolition project is not a safe option. The chemicals in the wood finish or paint can be potentially toxic when placed in the fireplace. Using wet wood can create extra smoke, which can clog the chimney with soot and make air unsafe in the home. Use smaller pieces of dry, untreated wood for safety and optimum performance.
Keep Tools Safely Stored Away
While it's helpful to keep pokers, matches, and other fireplace tools nearby, they can be harmful to children if left out. Find a safe place to keep these items, such as a nearby locked closet, to ensure children don't have access. Bring the tools out only when you need them, and keep them locked up when you aren't present. Remember that matches can also be harmful to pets, so keep this in mind even if you don't have children.
Schedule Regular Inspections
Keeping the chimney clean and free from obstructions is critical. Blocked chimneys can force dangerous carbon monoxide back into the home instead of properly venting it outside. In addition to annual cleanings, be sure to have your contractor check regularly for animal or bird nests as well as any other blockage that might become dangerous over time. You may also want to have your contractor inspect the flue before winter begins to ensure it's open and working properly. Your contractor can close the flue at the end of winter when the fireplace will no longer be in use.
Install Extra Detectors
Even if you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, consider installing additional units near the fireplace. A thoughtfully positioned detector can provide advanced warning of carbon monoxide presence in the home. Talk to your contractor about where to position the detector, as placement too close to the fireplace might result in false alarms. Check the batteries frequently to ensure proper function, and consider installing smart detectors to get alerts on your smartphone or tablet. These alerts can come in handy if you aren't home but someone else in your family is using the fireplace.
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