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7 Chimney and Fireplace Safety Tips You Need to Know

Last updated on January 8, 2021 at 07:26 pm

Thinking about cozying up to the glow of a crackling fire in your home? The moment can quickly be spoiled if you suspect a problem with your fireplace and begin to worry. Proactively address potential problems with these chimney and fireplace safety tips.

1. Get it inspected.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that chimneys, fireplaces and vents be inspected annually and cleaned or repaired, if necessary. In addition to cleaning, a professional chimney sweep should be able to check your chimney for cracks or loose bricks.

2. Keep it clear – inside and out.

Inside, keep papers, decorations, curtains and other flammable objects away from the fireplace. Outside, hire a professional to trim any trees that are overhanging your house or too close to your chimney. It’s best to have tree limbs as far from your chimney as possible.

3. Install a chimney cap.

Think of it as a hat for your chimney. It helps to keep out extra moisture from rain and snow. It will also help to keep out animals that may be looking for a place to build their new home.

4. Use a screen or doors.

It’s important to be protected from flying sparks and embers — even if the fire will be monitored by someone the entire time. Whenever you’re using your fireplace, be sure to close the glass doors or draw the wire screen mesh curtains closed.

5. Keep it clean.

Excess ash in the fireplace can reduce airflow to logs, which creates more smoke. Always use caution when disposing of ashes as they can remain hot for extended periods after a fire appears to be out. Just to be on the safe side, think of all ashes as hot coals.

6. Use caution with ashes.

When you dispose of your ashes, use a covered metal container and wet them down. Don’t add anything combustible to the ash bucket or store it near anything combustible. Allow it to sit outside, for at least three days before disposing of them. Make sure it’s somewhere where it can’t be knocked over by winds or animals, and away from combustible materials and buildings.

7. Start smart.

Be certain to keep your fireplace damper open when starting a fire. This will help prevent smoke from backing up into your home or lingering in your fireplace. A properly opened chimney flue will minimize creosote buildup and help prevent internal chimney fires.

While these chimney and fireplace safety tips should help to reduce the chance of an accident, this is not a comprehensive safety guide. Always observe safety precautions when using your fireplace and be aware of any changes in the way your fireplace operates – it could be a warning sign.

It has also become common to have an outdoor fire pit in your backyard. Even though it’s an outdoor fire, safety is still important. Check out our outdoor fire pit safety tips here.

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6 thoughts on “7 Chimney and Fireplace Safety Tips You Need to Know

    1. Hi! If your chimney primarily vents gas, The Chimney Safety Institute of America does recommend at least having it inspected by a professional because of the potential for corrosive substances.

  1. Hello! We recently started our new chimney cleaning business and came across this article.

    This article has some great tips, definitely, but I wanted to add one thing. If you’re installing a chimney cap and want to keep animals out, it is recommended to get a chimney cap that has a wire mesh on it, as some chimney cap designs have openings large enough for birds to enter, which could allow them to build a nest or blockage inside your chimney.

  2. My wife and I just bought a home that has a chimney and we are really excited to use it this winter. Keeping trees managed/trimmed around the chimney makes a lot of sense. We’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed with cleaning it though so we may hire a professional to clean it.

  3. Thanks for explaining that it’s important to keep fireplaces clean from ashes since they can reduce airflow as they build up. My husband and I just purchased a small cottage vacation home that has a fireplace in the parlor for heating. I’m glad I read your article and learned these safe practices to use after we have the fireplace repaired and working again.

  4. I’m glad you mentioned that chimneys need to be inspected by a professional sweep for damage in addition to being regularly cleaned. My husband and I just bought an older home with a fireplace in the front parlor. Thanks for teaching me the basics of chimney and fireplace safety so we can take the necessary steps for peace of mind for our family.

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