Fireplaces can be an immense installment into your home. They can serve multiple purposes, and when handled properly they can be awesome! The only issue is, if not taken seriously, fireplaces can cause unnecessary damage and even fires. Yes, fireplaces can cause fires! For some odd reason, some people think that since they are designed to contain a safe, controlled fire, they’re 100% safe and you don’t have to do any maintenance with them. This isn’t always true, considering 24,300 fireplace fires caused over $246,000,000 in damage in the US alone in 2008. If you are someone who does have a fireplace, don’t panic! Fireplaces fail for a reason, we are going to go over reasons why fireplaces fail so that you know how to properly take care of yours to avoid any trouble.
One of the most preventable fireplace failures are those caused by creosote buildup. Creosote is a black, tar-like material that collects in the chimney flue. This buildup is highly combustible and can be ignited, causing a chimney fire. Creosote buildup is easily preventable and fixable. To prevent this condition from happening, you should have your chimney professionally and regularly cleaned. If creosote has already built up in your chimney, a good cleaning should be able to get it back to normal.
Chimneys built with a clay flue liner are prone to cracks. When cracks occur, hot gases can get into the fireplace chase or into the home, sometimes causing carbon monoxide to enter, as well. These gases can also ignite, causing a fire. Gas entry and ignition can be prevented by having your fireplace inspected and cleaned regularly by a certified chimney specialist.
With today’s technology, fireplaces come in many varieties. Consumers can purchase an electric, stand alone, a traditional wood-burning, or gas fireplace. All types require the appropriate maintenance in order to them to be safely used for many years.
Gas fireplaces should have routine maintenance and should always be installed by a professional. They should have their fan and air passages cleaned and vents checked to ensure they are clear and working properly. Gas fireplaces should also have their millivolt output adjusted and their logs cleaned and batteries checked in the carbon monoxide detector.
Electric fireplaces are among the safest varieties to have in your home, but even they need proper maintenance. When you set up your electric fireplace, make sure you do not place it on thick carpeting, since it can block the air inlets that can interfere with the heater. This measure alone can help prevent a fire. The unit should be inspected regularly to ensure that the thermostat is working properly and the unit is clean. If you choose to perform maintenance yourself, be sure to unplug the unit first!
Maintaining your fireplace, regardless the type, is essential to prevent accidents and fire. Each type should be treated with care and inspected regularly to ensure everything is working properly. It is best to have a professional inspect your fireplace, especially a gas or wood-burning unit.
Many fires are caused by improper installation, incorrect clearances, improper venting, incorrect rough in of the surround chase, and insulation. When purchasing a fireplace, be sure to check with multiple companies for the installation. This is not something you want to try and save money on. Hiring the right professionals could potentially save your home and your life!
Fireplaces can be a great addition to your home if treated properly. Hopefully after reading this, you will have some basic knowledge on fireplace safety and how to maintain one. Be safe and do you’re research before purchasing a fireplace and you’ll have a nice warm home for the winter.