Fireplaces make a beautiful addition to any home, and a wood burning fire provides a level of ambiance and warmth that is unmatched by almost any heat source. However, there are still best burning practices that owners of residential fireplaces should follow.
Following these safety tips can ensure that homeowners are using their wood burning fireplaces in the safest and most efficient manner possible.
Know the Local Rules
During prolonged dry periods or droughts, some counties may enact burn bans to protect the drier than normal plants from accidental fire. Likewise, many cities and towns have rules or regulations regarding what can or cannot be burned within city limits. If you have questions about burning practices in your area, contact your city or county government.
Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions
Not all fireplaces are created equal. Each fireplace make and model has unique operating instructions. Likewise, different fireplaces are designed to use certain fuel sources, be used for certain amounts of time, or have a certain heat output. By familiarizing yourself with the manufacturer’s regulations for your specific fireplace make and model, you can ensure that your fireplace is being used as safely and efficiently as possible.
Burn Only Wood
Residential fireplaces are only designed to burn their designed fuel source and should never be used as means of waste disposal. Avoid burning paper products, cardboard, Styrofoam, and other forms of garbage as they are not meant to be burned indoors and can burn uncontrollably and damage the fireplace and chimney system. The safest fuel source for wood burning fireplaces is seasoned firewood. Seasoned firewood has been cut, stacked off the ground, and exposed to the elements for a minimum of 6-12 months. This process removes the majority of moisture from the wood, allowing it to burn cleaner, more efficiently, and at higher temperatures.
Other forms of wood including pretreated, stained, or painted wood from old fencing, decking, or playground equipment should never be burned in fireplaces. According to the EPA, this wood can release toxic chemicals when burned. Likewise, green or freshly cut wood should not be burned because it burns at lower temperatures and produces more creosote than seasoned wood.
Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms
Each year, thousands of Americans lose their lives in house fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. Correctly installed and maintained smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are one of the least expensive and most effective things homeowners can do to prevent fire-related injury or death. Even if you only occasionally use your fireplace, a functioning smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector can alert you and your family if anything is wrong.
Have Regular Cleanings and Inspections
The most important safety step homeowners can take is to regularly have their chimneys cleaned and inspected. An annual cleaning removes any harmful buildup of creosote, a highly flammable, black, tarry substance that is a naturally occurring byproduct of wood burning fires. Creosote buildup in the chimney can be ignited by sparks when the fireplace is in use, and is the number one cause of chimney fire in the United States.
If you have questions about best burning practices in your area or would like to schedule a cleaning or inspection, contact Coopertown Services today!