Wood Fireplace Safety Tips

A cozy wood fireplace is the pinnacle of comfort. The fire’s warmth, smell, and beautiful glow are all charming and relaxing.

But wood fireplaces require care and maintenance so that they can operate correctly and safely. They also need some basic know-how to prevent accidents and create a healthy fire without putting your home or family at risk.

If you have a wood fireplace in your home, consider these essential safety tips that you’ll want to have in your back pocket the next time you want to build a fire.

Proper Maintenance

Maintain Your Fireplace | Wood Fireplace Safety Tips | Aqua Quip serving the greater Seattle area

Even the most seasoned firestarters have fireplaces that need the occasional maintenance.

Light cleaning is a form of maintenance that homeowners can do relatively quickly. Make sure to use your fireplace’s manual to help guide you through any maintenance tasks to keep your home safe.

Getting a certified chimney sweep to clean out your flue at least once a year is wise, but a bi-weekly or monthly cleanup can help your wood fireplace perform at its best.

It’s crucial that you use protection when you’re cleaning any part of your fireplace. Eye protection, a mask or respirator, and gloves will help keep you safe, so remember to wear them before you start.

The most convenient way to keep your fireplace functioning at its best is to schedule regular maintenance with a professional. Doing so ensures that the maintenance gets done correctly and is hands-off, which is perfect for busy homeowners.

Checking for Creosote

Creosote | Wood Fireplace Safety Tips | Aqua Quip serving the greater Seattle area

Creosote is a thick substance that gets created during combustion. Creosote buildup can cause fireplaces to be maintained more often, as this substance could potentially ignite inside your flue or chimney, causing especially dangerous fires.

It most commonly occurs if the wood doesn’t burn completely. This is because fires that don’t get enough oxygen can cause vapor and other byproducts to fly up the chimney, where it sticks and cools into creosote. It’s incredibly flammable, so keeping your fireplace clean is a major component of wood fireplace safety.

Creosote is something you would ideally be checking for daily. Get your maintenance gear on, and grab a flashlight and fireplace poker. Before you prod around in there, make sure you feel a downdraft. If you don’t feel one, you can open a door or window to change the pressure inside your home.

Use your poker to pry and scratch around the smoke chamber. Creosote will look almost tar-like and should come out on your poker when you rummage around.

It’s safest to call a chimney sweep if you notice any amount of creosote, no matter how thin the layer may be. If there’s a significant buildup, call a chimney sweep immediately, and wait to use your fireplace until it’s been cleaned.

Starting a Fire Right

Starting a Fire | Wood Fireplace Safety Tips | Aqua Quip serving the greater Seattle area

Do you know how to start a fire? You’ll need three things: oxygen, heat, and fuel. Knowing how these elements interact can help you start fires safely and get them roaring the way you want them to.

You can manipulate the oxygen using the air control and a damper if you own a unit that has one. Start with smaller pieces of wood as fuel, since they’ll ignite much quicker than larger pieces.

Wood is the safest fuel; while many homeowners are tempted by newspaper or cardboard, these are much more dangerous fuel sources and cause smoke to pour into the room and affect air quality.

You can leave your door slightly ajar while waiting for the fire to build to keep oxygen circulating. But it’s essential that you don’t walk away at this stage; keep tending to the fire as needed.

Once you get a good burn going, feel free to add more wood and close your door. You should check the air control and damper to ensure they stay at the ideal levels every twenty minutes or so. If you incorporate more air, you’ll have a bigger fire that will burn out faster, and less air means a smaller fire that burns longer.

A Safe Hearth Starts at Home

Are you interested in a wood fireplace? Aqua Quip offers Regency brand hearth products, including high-quality wood fireplaces. Learn more about our fireplaces and start customizing the perfect hearth for your home today!