Fireplace Safety: Which Type of Fireplace Is the Safest?

fireplace safety

The idea of a perfect winter day revolves around the iconic fireplace. Anyone who grew up in the northern states thinks fondly about sitting by the open fire to warm up. Even people who live in the South dream of weather cold enough to warrant a fireplace installation.

If you’re intent on fireplace installation in your new home, you should consider which is the safest for your house and family. Each fuel source brings its own dangers and fireplace safety requirements. 

Here’s what you need to know before you buy your new fireplace. 

Wood Burning Options

Wood-burning fireplaces are some of the most common and well-known options in the market. Many older houses come with them pre-installed, and new homeowners often desire their traditional look and feel. However, they can bring danger to your home due to the fact that you need to expose the flame in order to feed the fire more wood. 

Some of the different wood-burning fireplace options include open hearths, stoves, enclosed fireplaces, and inserts. 

Open hearths are the classic variety with the fireplace built into the wall of your house. While aesthetically pleasing, they’re inefficient and can easily cause a fire if a spark meets fabric or wood flooring. There’s also the issue of smoke

In comparison, stoves and enclosed fireplaces are more secure. A stove isn’t technically a fireplace, but it’s more efficient than an open hearth. Enclosed fireplaces offer the same advantages, but are cost-prohibitive. 

Inserts convert an open-hearth fireplace into a safer and more efficient option. However, they can easily cost you as much as $5,000 for a professional installation. 

Keep in mind that wood-burning fireplaces are functional when the power goes out and don’t require gas. The problem is that they can produce toxic gas and introduce a risk of fire into your home. 

Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces are a good option if you care about fireplace safety. They’re increasingly popular these days, and they don’t cost a lot to install. However, whether you consider them safe or not depends on how you feel about gas-powered appliances. 

A gas fireplace runs on either natural gas or propane. Although you often see them with objects that look like wood logs inside of them, gas fireplaces can’t burn wood. Those are actually fake logs made simply for aesthetic purposes. 

There are some risks involved in using a gas fireplace.

First of all, they produce carbon dioxide as a result of burning fossil fuels. Incomplete combustion may produce carbon monoxide, which is toxic to people and can easily go unnoticed until it becomes deadly. 

Second, gas fireplaces are still a burn hazard. If a stray cloth or person touches the glass pane, they can get burned. 

Electric Fireplaces

Electric fireplaces are by far the safest form of fireplace you can invest in. These are affordable, easy to install, and plug right into your wall. You wouldn’t be wrong in comparing them with large, decorative space heaters. 

Instead of an actual fire, like with wood and gas-burning options, an electric fireplace uses LED lights. Realistic-looking flames are projected onto a screen, and the heating element can be turned on or off depending on your needs. Some even have smart features that allow you to change the appearance of the flame and set a timer. 

You can install an electric fireplace inside your wall like a traditional one or opt for a more creative placement. Infrared fireplaces are a new type that uses quartz heating technology to heat the surface of objects. 

These offer a safe fireplace without any of the disadvantages associated with other options. You won’t have to worry about flying embers or smoke. There’s also no risk of a gas leak. 

The only problem with electric fireplaces is that they require a power source, which means you can’t rely on them during a power outage. 

Fireplace Safety Tips

There are two things to keep in mind when considering a new fireplace. Where you install your fireplace and how it’s installed matters. You also need to know how to maintain and take care of it. 

Fireplace Installation

First of all, you’ll need to decide on the best type of fireplace for your home. An electric fireplace is one of the most affordable options and doesn’t require a chimney or vent. 

Second, the place you choose will depend on the size of your fireplace and vice versa. Bigger rooms need more powerful heating elements. However, a larger wood-burning fireplace will also produce more smoke. 

Finally, try to avoid DIY installation unless you’re an expert. Even electric fireplaces can turn into fire hazards if they’re plugged into a shared outlet. Wood-burning fireplaces need a chimney or vent, and gas fireplaces need to be connected to a gas line. 

Fireplace Maintenance

Each kind of fireplace has its own maintenance tips you should look up if you want a safer home.

For example, open-hearth fireplaces need a safe zone of about two feet around them. That zone should be devoid of anything that could burn, such as fabrics or wood furniture. 

In the case of an electric fireplace, you should treat it like any heating unit. Dust the fireplace when it’s unplugged and clean the heater outlets. Wipe down both sides of the glass, but avoid abrasive cleaners. 

The LED lights on your electric fireplace should last around ten years, so you won’t need to regularly change them out. 

Safely Enjoy Your New Fireplace

If you prioritize modern appliances and fireplace safety, then the electric fireplace is a perfect fit. They don’t take up a ton of space, don’t require big renovations, and use up little power to function. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t opt for a wood or gas-powered fireplace if that’s better for your home’s aesthetic.

Dreifuss Fireplaces offers high-quality fireplace installation in the Philadelphia, PA area. We do both commercial and residential fireplaces in a variety of different styles. Contact us to learn more about our services. 

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