Social media is beginning to fill up with cozy pictures of fires crackling in the fireplace, stockings hung with care, and the Christmas tree close by. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! While your furnace is likely still the main source of heat for your home, you may also use the fireplace for warmth and ambiance.
Your HVAC contractors at Xcalibur Services in Birmingham, AL, want to ensure your family stays safe this holiday season. Whether you have gas logs, chop the wood yourself, or rely on an electric fireplace, there are general safety tips for everyone in your family to abide by.
If you currently have a fireplace or plan on installing one, it’s important to know that there are wood-burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces, and electric fireplaces. Each type has its own way of producing heat, which also means that each fireplace can be a fire hazard if a homeowner leaves the fire unattended. To prevent any home fires due to fireplaces, homeowners need to be knowledgeable about fireplaces and the basic fire safety tips created by the national fire protection association. Each fireplace has the same basic components: a firebox, a chimney, and its related parts, and a screen/glass door along with its tools.
Below are some of the critical fire safety tips for those who own or plan to have a fireplace in their home:
General Fireplace Safety
- Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything potentially flammable (i.e., oversized stockings, dangling decorations, presents, books, etc.). If these flammable materials get too close to the fireplace, they could catch fire and cause a house fire.
- Put fireplace tools and accessories out of reach of children. Remove any lighters, matches, or other fire starters away from the fireplace when not in use.
- Talk with children as early as possible about the dangers of fires and the heat coming from them.
- Closely monitor small children around the hearth, especially when a fire is going on. If you leave the room, take them with you.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Make sure it is completely out or turned off before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and have it inspected annually.
- Install both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Test them regularly and change the batteries at least once a year. Smoke alarms can be what save you and your family from a house fire.
Wood-Burning fireplaces are classic fireplace that provides a rich, cozy ambiance and nostalgia while also producing warmth. Wood fireplaces are considered traditional fireplaces that come with a lot of work and maintenance that is worth it for the irreplaceable experience of a crackling fire. Wood fireplaces are known as chimney fires.
- Open the flue or damper before starting a fire, and double-check using a flashlight or mirror. Keeping the damper or flue open until the fire is out will draw smoke out of the house, so ensure the embers have completely stopped burning before closing it.
- Use dry and well-aged hardwoods cut into smaller pieces. Wet or green wood causes more smoke. Dried kindling and wood burn with less smoke and burn more evenly.
- Clean out ashes or creosote from previous fires. Creosote is the build-up or residue from burnt firewood. Creosote buildup should be kept to 1 inch or less, or else it may restrict the air supply to logs, resulting in more smoke and potential carbon monoxide poisoning.
- The chimney should be checked annually by a professional chimney sweep.
- Check for animal nests or other blockages that could prevent smoke from escaping.
Consider getting a chimney cap for your wood-burning fireplace and other recommendations provided by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
Gas Fireplaces are the next energy-efficient alternative to wood-burning fireplaces. Gas fireplaces have similar components, such as a chimney and firebox, but they are used to ventilate natural gas. A gas fireplace would also require a gas line installation near or within the fireplace to produce the gas fire.
- Minimize your child’s chance of burns from the hot glass front of many gas fireplaces. Safety screens can be installed to reduce the risk of burns. Visit this blog post from the AAP about the dangers of glass-fronted fireplaces (WARNING: the post contains graphic injury pictures).
- Have a professional annually check the gas lines, clean the burner and control compartment, and check for condensation.
Electric fireplaces don’t require wood or gas installation. Electric fireplaces simply need an electrical connection, and their coils and fans will distribute the heat. This ventless fireplace is the most cost-effective option, but also produces the least amount of heat and the best ambiance of a fireplace.
- Electric fireplaces are similar to space heaters because they have coils that can start a house fire if left near something combustible. All flammable items must be away wherever the electric fireplace is installed or plugged in.
There’s just something special about a fire in the fireplace, but to fully enjoy it, it’s crucial that safety precautions are taken.
As we said, your furnace will most likely remain your main source of heat this holiday season, so if something happens to it this winter, contact your trusted HVAC contractors in Birmingham, AL- Xcalibur Services. We’re here all year long to help keep you comfortable and safe in your home. Happy holidays from all of us at Xcalibur Services!