Fireplace Safety Tips
Nothing quite beats the feeling of sitting back in front of your roaring fireplace on a cold winter’s evening. Whether you own a wood burning stove, open hearth or multi fuel fire, you’ll never get tired of the warm, live flame display at the heart of your living room. But it’s easy to get swept up in the romantic imagery and forget about some of the important stuff – namely, how to stay safe when using a solid fuel fireplace.
In this article, we’re looking at some of the fundamental elements of fireplace safety for your peace of mind.
Before lighting a fire
Don’t jump right into lighting a fire without first checking the condition of your fireplace and the chimney. This is especially important if your fireplace hasn’t been used for a while. The chimney should be swept and inspected by a professional once a year to ensure there are no blockages, damage or creosote deposits in your chimney. If your chimney is compromised, lighting a fire could cause a chimney fire or the leakage of toxic gases into your home – carbon monoxide, for example.
Any soft furnishings or other nearby flammable objects should be kept a safe distance away from the fire. This includes anything hanging from your mantlepiece. An open fire should also have a fireguard in place at all times, so get one ready before you attempt to burn anything.
Know your fuel
Knowing your fuel requirements is a necessity. Your manufacturer’s guide should tell you what can and can’t be burned in your appliance, but if you don’t have that to hand you can always contact a reputable solid fuel supplier for guidance. Also check whether or not you’re in a smoke control area. If you are, burning anything other than smokeless fuels could net you a hefty fine.
Once you know what kind of fuel you need, the next step is ensuring it’s of a high enough quality. For wood burners, you only want to burn dry, well-seasoned – or kiln dried – wood. Wet wood not only takes more energy and time to burn, but it can also be dangerous. More smoke is created and there’s a much higher chance of creosote deposits forming in your chimney. That’s why it’s always better to use treated dry wood from a reliable supplier.
General fireplace safety principles
So your chimney is in pristine condition, your fireplace is clean and clear and your fuel is burning nicely; job done? Not quite. There are some important safety principles you should keep in mind if you want to minimise risk:
- Don’t overload the fireplace with wood or coal, and clean out ashes when they start to pile up between uses
- For multi-fuel stoves, never burn two different kinds of fuel at the same time. You should only ever burn different fuels separately
- We also recommend sticking to smokeless coal over normal house coal for a multi fuel stove. House coal can leave large amounts of soot behind – and generate large amounts of smoke – but smokeless coal will burn more efficiently and keep your stove cleaner and healthier
- Never leave a fireplace unattended for extended periods of time
- Make sure the fire is fully extinguished before going to bed for the night
- Keep a set of fireplace tools/accessories near the fireplace – fire poker, coal shovel, tongs etc. Heavy duty fireproof gloves will also help, and, of course, a working, suitable fire extinguisher is a must
- Never use lighter/starting fluids to get a fire going or while the fire is already lit. These substances are extremely volatile; the only fuel you should use are combustible solid fuels from a reputable supplier
Coal Merchants UK are here for all your coal, firewood and smokeless fuel needs. No matter what your appliance, we have the right fuel for you. We offer prompt, free delivery of house coal nationwide – and can even accommodate emergency next day delivery. If you’d like to arrange for a delivery of coal or any of our alternative solid fuels – or require expert advice on the most suitable fuel for your fireplace – simply contact us today. We are always happy to help.