Wood burning and gas fireplaces are designed to provide warmth and comfort to your home. To ensure they can safely do their job, fireplaces require proper maintenance and operation. Before you light the first fire of the season, there are some important fireplace safety tips to remember.
• Have your chimney inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary, by a professional chimney sweep to ensure it’s clear of obstructions and creosote.
• Have a cap installed at the top of the chimney to avoid the possibility that debris or animals can block the chimney.
• Install both a smoke and carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home and by all bedrooms. (Make sure the alarms function and remember to check once a month)
• Keep fire extinguisher(s) on hand and readily available.
• Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of any and all combustible items such as furniture, books, newspapers and other potentially flammable materials. (Two feet away is a good rule.)
LIGHTING THE FIRE
• Clean out ashes from previous fires. Open the damper.
• Use a fireplace screen or grate.
• Keep glass doors open during a fire.
• Use the proper fireplace tools and accessories to tend the fire.
• Always build a safe fire.
• Keep the fire screen/grate closed when the fireplace is not in use.
USE COMMON SENSE
• Never burn any debris, garbage, rolled newspapers, charcoal or plastic in the fireplace.
• Never use gasoline or any flammable liquid to help start a fire.
• Always keep small children and pets away from the fireplace.
• Never leave a fire unattended.
• Never close the damper until the embers have completely stopped burning.
• Make sure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving your home.
• When you clean your fireplace, store the ashes in a non-combustible container with a tight fitting lid and place the container away from the house.
• Never burn any part of your Christmas tree in the fireplace
• With the holiday season fast approaching, remember to take decorations such as stockings off the fireplace before use. If you have a real Christmas tree, water it regularly and keep it a safe distance away from your woodstove and any open flames.
• Be responsible and use common sense. Avoid being intoxicated or impaired when around fire. Never leave your house or go to bed when a fire is still burning
STARTING A SAFE FIRE
• Creating a perfect fire starts with selecting seasoned wood that is cut to the proper length. To start a safe fire, crumple paper on the grate within the fireplace and cover it with kindling or a fire starter. Open the fireplace damper fully and then light the paper. Once the kindling is burning brightly, add dry seasoned wood to the fire and shut the fire screen. Do not overload the fireplace so the firewood could tumble out. A few logs will suffice. Burning a fire log purchased from your favourite store is a good alternative to firewood, and will not require paper or kindling to get the fire started.
ROLE OF CHIMNEY SWEEPING
Good and proper maintenance of your chimney is complicated by the fact that many issues such as cracks, faults, and possible structural damage are not visible from the outside. To ensure your chimney safety, the best bet is to have a professional and certified chimney sweep perform an annual inspection and clean your chimney as necessary. Chimney sweeps will remove any creosote and/or obstructions that may be present which may include such things as leaves, branches or bird’s nests. Professional Chimney Sweeps will also look for other problems within your system.
GAS FIREPLACE SAFETY MAINTENANCE TIPS
Professional installation by a qualified and licensed technician is essential to the proper performance operation and safety of a fireplace and its venting system. Unlike other household appliances that may malfunction, a fireplace that doesn’t operate as it was designed can have serious consequences. Many specialty retailers only offer installation or servicing of your fireplace by factory-trained and/or certified and licensed technicians.
Gas fireplaces also require routine maintenance and service to ensure proper operation. Make sure the person performing the service is a certified and licensed technician who is trained in the maintenance of gas fireplaces. A gas and fireplace technician should perform the following type of tasks when performing service on a gas fireplace:
• Adjust millivolt output if needed.
• Clean and adjust the glowing embers and logs for best appearance.
• Clean the fan and related air circulation passages.
• Clean the glass.
• Check the batteries in the carbon monoxide detector.
• Ensure the vents are unobstructed and able to do their job.
HEARTH RETAILERS ARE AN IMPORTANT RESOURCE
All hearth products, not just fireplaces, need to be maintained and operated properly in order to function safely and perform at their best. To fully understand the necessary steps involved in proper operation, read the manufacturer’s instruction manual for the hearth product and consult with a certified professional for input and guidance.
GAS FIREPLACE SAFETY MAINTENANCE TIPS
Professional installation by a qualified technician is essential to the proper performance and safety of a hearth product and its venting system. Unlike a malfunctioning refrigerator, a hearth product that doesn’t do its job properly can have serious consequences. Many specialty retailers offer installation by factory-trained and/or nationally certified staff.