How to Safely Use a Traditional Fireplace

traditional fireplace

Projections show that the global hearth market will reach $14.8 billion by 2027.

Over the years, new technologies have offered different heating solutions for homes. Despite that, many still opt for fireplaces as they’re practical and provide a particular aesthetic that people love.

There’s nothing quite the same as a traditional fireplace. They add an element of comfort and atmosphere to any home. If you choose to have one, however, you must take proper safety precautions to minimize the risk of an accident or injury.

This guide will review essential tips to help you stay safe when using your traditional fireplace. Keep reading for more.

Only Use Dry, Cured Wood to Light Your Fire

One of the first fireplace safety tips you should know is that you should only burn wood after it’s been adequately dried. You can purchase wood that’s already dried, or you can do it yourself at home.

If you dry your own wood, you’ll need to cut, split, and stack it somewhere that you can leave it for a while. Cover the top of the pile, but leave the sides open so air can flow through.

You typically want to dry it for about 12 months before burning it.

For a long-lasting fire, there are some more suitable types of wood. This includes things like:

  • Beech
  • Hickory
  • White oak
  • White ash
  • Sugar maple

While these may be some of the best options, many other kinds of wood can serve just fine. The dryness of the wood is more important than the type of wood.

Options like white pine and spruce will burn well but quicker as they’re less dense. As such, you’ll need to add logs more frequently.

Burn Specialist Firewood Only

Plenty of places to get scrap wood, such as construction scraps, broken pallets, and old crates. To ensure fire safety, however, these should all be avoided.

If you burn wood that’s been treated in any way, harmful chemicals will be released. These can contaminate the air in your home and will be potentially dangerous to you and your family.

You can use log starters to make it easier to get your fire going, but you should only use one of these at a time.

Install a Protective Chimney Cap

A traditional fire requires a chimney to let the smoke out, but you must also prevent things from getting in at the top. A chimney cap can keep out rain, snow, and other debris while reducing downdrafts.

There are side vents that allow the smoke to escape.

A chimney sweep can install a cap, and they’re not too expensive—typically about $200 or less. Note that you may want a stainless steel cap over a galvanized one, which will be more rust-resistant.

Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Even if you don’t have a fireplace in your home, you should have smoke detectors distributed appropriately in case a fire breaks out.

Having a fireplace can naturally increase the chances of a fire, making smoke detectors even more critical. Heat detectors are also an option.

You should have carbon monoxide alarms in your home if you have any systems that could leak this harmful gas. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, so an alarm is the only way to detect a leak. Inhaling it can potentially be fatal, so you don’t want to take any risks.

People often think carbon monoxide is only a risk with gas fires, but a traditional wood-burning fireplace can create it too. If there are any ventilation issues, it can get into the air in your home.

Make sure any smoke detectors, heat alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors are placed suitably in relation to your fireplace.

Clean Your Chimney Regularly and Well

Most elements of fireplace maintenance focus on the fireplace itself, but you don’t want to forget about the chimney.

Creosote will gradually build up with the use of your fireplace and stick to the walls of your chimney. It can damage your chimney and cause blockages and is one of the leading causes of chimney fires.

Blockages can also prevent smoke from escaping correctly, contaminating the air in your home. You might also notice certain odors coming from your chimney. This is a sign of a buildup of creosote, soot, or something else.

Replace Your Faulty Sealing Damper

Part of proper fireplace care means maintaining parts and replacing them when needed.

If the damper isn’t sealing properly, it will let warm air out of your home when your fireplace isn’t in use. This will result in you needing to heat your home more, costing you extra money.

You want to ensure the damper is open before starting a fire so that smoke can escape.

When you put the fire out, you still want to keep it open for a short while as smoke may still come off of the logs for some time. Once the embers have completely stopped burning, you can close the damper. 

Find the Best Traditional Fireplace for Your Home

A traditional fireplace can warm your home and create a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. Just bear in mind that if you get one, you need to take the precautions above to ensure you and your family are as safe as possible.

Dreifuss Fireplaces offers different kinds of fireplaces and has been installing them throughout PA for more than a century. Visit our Wood Fireplaces page to learn more about our traditional fireplaces.

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