Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hearth and Home: How to Enjoy Your Fireplace with Safety in Mind

There is probably nothing more inviting than a roaring fire in your home, especially when it is really cold outside, which is why so many people are keen to have a fireplace.

These fireplaces are a beautiful feature and one of the must-haves for a lot of people when they are searching for a home, but they can also be deadly if you don’t keep safety in mind.

Here is a look at how you can still enjoy your fireplace but do so with safety in mind.

photo credit: Photo

Understanding your fireplace

It is definitely worth taking a moment to understand the anatomy of your fireplace as this will help you understand how to use it safely and what limitations it might have that you need to be aware of.
Fireplaces are generally available in two different forms, they are either a masonry fireplace which is built entirely from bricks and mortar or stone and the other version is likely to be a fireplace that has been built in a factory and is essentially a lightweight metal firebox with an accompanying metal chimney.

You will encounter different versions of both types but there are some fundamental differences between the two styles and you will need to consider these when using the type of fireplace you have as safely as possible.

Masonry fireplace

If you have what is a more traditional style of fireplace that is built of bricks, they will require an extensive footing that is capable of coping with their large weight.

Always be vigilant and look for any signs of settling or movement and never assume that because it is made of brick it is virtually indestructible. The special fire bricks used are designed to withstand the heat generated but the lining can degenerate over time and this presents a fire hazard if the chimney is not checked and maintained on a fairly regular basis.

Prefabricated fireplace

If you have a factory built fireplace installed, one of their advantages is the fact that the fireplace and chimney are likely to be a complete system which is specifically designed to work safely and efficiently in unison.

The most important points to remember about these units are the fact that they are often not able to withstand the same level of wear and abuse that a brick chimney can, and a prefab fireplace is going to wear out sooner than its brick counterpart, so look for signs of aging.

General safety

In addition to ensuring that you always use fireplace screens for enhanced safety and protection from the threat of burning and the occasional spit of fire, there are a number of other safety measures to consider.

Make sure you have your chimney and appliance checked once a year and never leave a fire unattended for any length of time, even if you are using a fire screen and there is a door on the front of the fire.
Also make sure that you have working smoke detectors on every floor of your house and improve general fire safety by using seasoned hardwood rather than soft wood, which will increase the buildup of creosote.

A fireplace in your home is something to enjoy, but always with safety in mind.

Linda Jackson is a home decor and design consultant. She loves to write about what she has learned in the field. Her articles can be found mainly on home improvement websites.

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