Expert Advice

Fireplace safety tips


With winter settling in, it’s time to get your fireplace ready for the cold months ahead. Stay safe and warm with these fireplace safety tips.

Annual Inspections – Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional to ensure that it’s obstruction free and clear of creosote – a black, oily accretion that builds up on the inside walls of the chimney. Because creosote is highly combustible, a thick accumulation creates a fire hazard.

Length of Use – Use the fireplace for short-duration fires, no longer than five hours.

Plan Ahead – Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials. Use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while a fire is burning.

When to Clean – During periods of heavy use, clean the wood-burning firebox regularly once the embers are cold. Leave about an inch of ash because it acts as insulation, allowing the coals to heat faster and retain more heat.

Upkeep – Check that vents are unobstructed and able to do their job. Clean the fan and all air circulation passages. In non-wood burning fireplaces, clean and adjust glowing embers and logs for best appearance.

Cap Your Chimney – Have a rain cap and screen installed at the top of the chimney to deter animals from entering, help prevent water damage and keep debris from blocking the opening. A spark arrestor will prevent live embers from escaping the chimney.

Safety First – Always keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergency. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the same room as the fireplace.

Use Common Sense – Never leave the fire unattended. Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed. Keep children and pets away from the fireplace. Do not use a vacuum to clean up ashes, because embers can smolder long after the fire is out, creating a real fire hazard.


Andrew Radomski, R.H.I.

Pillar To Post Home Inspections



Pre-listing, Pre-purchase, Commercial Inspections  for over 18 years

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