Four Ways to Minimize Fireplace Safety Risks
Posted November 6, 2015
As winter approaches, many of us are looking forward to using our fireplaces again. Although the figures vary by region, over eighty percent of houses in the United States have at least one. But while they are certainly enjoyable, fireplaces possess an inherent safety risk when used. However, by following these simple steps, you can minimize many hazards to your family’s well-being.
1. Thoroughly Clean It
Before you resume use of the fireplace, you should set aside time to wash it out. This can greatly reduce the amount of substances, such as soot, that are present in your home. This is particularly beneficial considering that these substances can trigger respiratory problems, especially for those who already have conditions such as asthma .To start, it is recommended that each fall you remove the andirons and grate and scrub them outside with detergent and water. Furthermore, be sure to shovel out any lingering ash from fireplace itself and wash it out. When doing so, it may help to start at the top and leave newspaper on the bottom to catch the falling soot. Once the soot and debris are removed, continue cleaning with a mixture of one gallon of water, a tablespoon of bleach, and six tablespoons of Trisodium Phosphate. Be sure to use gloves and exercise caution while doing so. Afterwards, towel dry the fireplace and return the andirons and gate.
2. Invest Time in Fireproofing
It is no secret that fireplaces inherently carry the risk of causing a residential fire. That being said, there are a few actions that have the potential to greatly reduce this risk. Many of these are simply common sense. For example, do not leave fires unattended for several hours at a time. Also do not leave flammable materials nears the hearth. Furthermore, homeowners can use a combination of screens and fire proof rugs to prevent embers from escaping and spreading.
3. Hire a Chimney Sweep
While this may seem like an anachronism to many people, chimney sweeps still provide valuable services to homeowners across the country. Generally speaking, it is recommended that you have your chimney inspected each time it has been used for eighty consecutive fires. This can significantly reduce the presence of harmful fumes such as carbon monoxide. Also considering the fact that over 24,000 residential fires originate in chimneys each year, their work against potential fire hazards is highly important.
4. If possible, use an Insert
While this option is not feasible for everyone, adding an insert can cut down on the amount of particulate matter that is released from wood burning fireplaces. Furthermore, they have the added benefit of heating your home much more efficiently. Therefore, they can have a positive impact on your heating bill as well as your health. That being said, it is important to consider that these pieces of equipment are not inexpensive and can cost up to $2,000.
In all, fireplaces can serve a useful purpose to millions of people every winter. However, they are not without potential health and safety hazards. Yet with some foresight, there is much you can do to ensure that your family stays safe warm this winter.