Fireplace Safety Tips for a Healthy Home

There’s nothing like enjoying a warm, cozy fire on a cold winter’s day. But to keep your home comfortable all winter long, it’s important to consider how your fireplace might be affecting your home’s indoor air quality.

Fireplaces, as well as wood and gas stoves, release dangerous pollutants into the air, like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other particles.

To protect your indoor air quality and maintain a clean, safe fireplace, follow these fire safety tips:

Aprilaire’s Fireplace Safety Tips

  • Choose the proper fuel – Use smaller, dry pieces of wood to ensure a hotter and cleaner burning fire with less smoke. NEVER burn wet, treated, or painted wood.
  • Before making a fire – Open the glass doors, pull aside the screen curtains and place the kindling, and wood inside. Then open the damper and a window to prevent a smoky room. (This may vary based on the construction of your fireplace.)
  • While fire is burning – Cool the chimney by keeping the glass doors open, but keep the screen closed to prevent sparks from jumping out. Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything flammable.
  • Child safety – Never leave a fire unattended when children are in the house. Install a safety screen to minimize any chances of burns if you have small children. Communicate the dangers of fires and heat as early as possible to your children.
  • Important precautions – Install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, testing them monthly and changing the batteries at least once a year. Always keep a fire extinguisher on hand and be sure it is easily accessible.
  • Cleaning – The firebox should be cleaned out at least once per week when the fireplace is in use. Coals can remain hot enough to start a fire for up to three days, so wait at least that long before removing any ashes. Levels of ash should be kept to one inch to act as insulation and allow the coals to heat faster and retain heat easier. Be sure to close the damper to prevent cold air in the flue from stirring up dust while you’re removing the ashes. Wear a dust mask and open a window to prevent negative air pressure. The firebox should be kept completely clean when the fireplace is not in use.
  • Routine Maintenance – Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean your chimney at least once a year. Checking your chimney for animal nests or blockages is important even if it isn’t due for a cleaning to ensure the smoke can escape properly. It’s essential to clean and inspect your fireplace and venting system to protect your air quality.
  • Use an air purifier – Even properly-kept fireplaces can release harmful emissions into your home. Aprilaire air purifiers can filter and remove damaging particles released from fireplaces to help your family breathe easy all winter long.

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