Owning a fireplace can be a luxury—who wouldn’t want to spend their winter nights next to a warm and delightful fire? Or imagine waking up on the holidays to the crackling of a fire and the smell of wood. You can’t recreate these scenarios without adequately taking care of your fireplace first.

As a homeowner, fireplace safety rules are essential for you to follow and have. You must be cautious with this home feature to prevent hazards and accidents. Ensure your family’s safety by following the simple rules set forth below.

Open the Damper for Each Fire

The damper is an essential fireplace component that helps direct the smoke from your fire through the chimney so that it can exit your home. If you don’t open this mechanism, smoke can accumulate in your home and make it difficult to breathe. As a result, a closed damper can quickly become a safety hazard. You must leave it open until every ember is no longer smoldering. Additionally, you should close the damper when you aren’t burning a fire to avoid cold winter drafts from entering the home.

Clean Out Ashes After Every Fire

An excess of ash at the bottom of your fireplace could become a safety hazard for several reasons. A thick layer of ash will not allow a new fire to breathe, producing more smoke. Excess ash combined with moisture or water could damage your fireplace and become destructive. Ensure you’re cleaning out the remnants from your fire after each use. Ideally, you should keep the layer of ash at the fireplace’s bottom to one inch or less.

Choose the Correct Kind of Wood

When selecting your fuel for a fire, you must choose a suitable wood species that burns clean and creates less smoke. Find dry, well-seasoned wood to burn. This means the logs were left to dry to remove all moisture. Wet or green wood can cause more smoke to billow from the hearth and contribute to more soot building up.

Typically, oak or hardwood is the best species for your fireplace because they burn long and hot. On the other hand, softwoods like pine aren’t dry enough, burn fast, and can produce creosote buildup. Another tip includes purchasing your wood locally to avoid spreading tree diseases, insects, and pests.

Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Every home, regardless of whether it has a fireplace, must have a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector to alert you when a fire is present or when carbon monoxide levels are too high. Don’t forget these detectors; ensure you’re testing their batteries monthly and changing them every year. If you don’t maintain the sensors in your home, that could be detrimental when there’s a safety hazard because there will be nothing to alert you or your family about the situation.

Perform an Annual Chimney Sweep

Every year, a homeowner must perform a chimney sweep to clean the flue and fireplace to prepare for the next season. Generally, it’s best to hire a chimney company to do this because they have professional technicians with experience to perform better chimney sweeping. Aside from the annual cleaning, maintain the fireplace between uses to prevent any hazards from developing.

Never Leave a Fire Unattended

When starting a fire in your hearth, never leave it unattended. When a fire is burning but no one is around to watch it, bad things can come about. This is especially true when small children are present. Smother out the fire or wait until it’s entirely out before leaving the room, going to bed, or leaving the house.

Keep a Fire Extinguisher Handy

Safety rules are essential for all homeowners who have fireplaces. Ensure your safety if something terrible happens by keeping a fire extinguisher handy. Never buy a fire extinguisher without learning how to use the device properly. It could save your family from harm. On the other hand, if the fire spreads quickly, it’s best to evacuate your home and call 911 instead of trying to battle the fire yourself.

Open a Window When Burning a Fire

When you’re starting a fire in the hearth, you should know it needs large amounts of oxygen to burn efficiently. Usually, the room in your home doesn’t supply enough oxygen for a fire, so opening a window can help solve this problem. This also helps vent the room by pulling the excess smoke that billows back out of the flue through the window. If it’s winter, don’t open your window completely—an inch or two should suffice.

Keep the Fireplace Clear of Hazards

A fireplace could quickly become a fire hazard if you have anything flammable near it. Should a spark jump, you never want it to land on something that could catch fire. Avoid placing furniture, rugs, Christmas trees, etc., near the hearth to prevent a house fire. You can still add coziness to this room, but there must be a clearance from the fireplace. We suggest a flame-resistant rug if this is a décor element you don’t want to compromise on.

Teach Your Children Fire Safety

When there are little ones in your home, teach them about fire safety to prevent a catastrophe. Children have curious minds, but this can become dangerous when a fire is present. Give them a lesson on how to behave around the fireplace, what they should never touch, and the dangers of a fire. Furthermore, never leave children unattended near a fire. Also, consider placing a screen or door on the hearth to act as an extra barrier to prevent kids from getting too close to the active fire.

Never avoid any of the above rules for fireplaces, or you could create a safety hazard. While fireplaces are beautiful and inviting, they can also be dangerous. Maintain safe practices around fires to prevent your home from catching fire. You should also prevent harmful substances from building up, such as soot or creosote. If you have questions about cleaning and maintaining your fireplace, contact Chimcare today. Our professionals would love to help you!

10 Essential Fireplace Safety Rules for Homeowners