Curl up to fireplace facts

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
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It's a scene straight from a movie: You and your sweetie curled up in front of the fireplace on a cold, dreary winter day. It sounds perfect, right? And it can be if you take the proper precautions with your fireplace.

Charlie Robinson of Best Clean Fireplace Shoppe says whether you have a wood-burning or gas fireplace, it should be inspected and serviced once a year. Homeowners who have a fireplace should also have two other things in the house: a carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguisher.

Follow these other tips from the U.S. Fire Administration and enjoy lots of time in front of the fireplace this winter:

* Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.

* Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.

* Leave glass doors open while burning a fire. Leaving the doors open ensures that the fire receives enough air to ensure complete combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney.

* Close glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from the chimney opening from getting into the room. Most glass fireplace doors have a metal mesh screen which should be closed when the glass doors are open. This mesh screen helps keep embers from getting out of the fireplace area.

* Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces that do not have a glass fireplace door.

* Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.

* Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.

* Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.

* Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.

* Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.

* Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.

* Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.

* Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home.

Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Wood vs. gas

Charlie Robinson says that when it comes to choosing wood-burning or gas fire places, it's a matter of customer preference.

With wood fireplaces, you get the old-fashioned ambience, but you also have to stock the wood, which can make a mess, and take the time to build the fire.

"A gas fireplace is automatic," Robinson says. "You push a button and get heat and a good-looking flame."

And if you're using your fireplace to heat your house, you can set a gas fireplace to kick on and off, much like a thermostat.

Did you know ...

Heating fires account for 36 percent of residential home fires in rural areas every year.