Using the fireplace at home is always related to the warm feeling of well-being during the winter season. We also remember the many evenings with family and friends that we enjoyed at home, next to a good fireplace.

However, that placidity can be clouded if we start thinking about the risks of misuse and lack of maintenance in our wood heating system that is so idyllic.

No one wants to imagine the possibility of getting sick from excess smoke, the accumulation of Co2. And everything is perfectly controllable if we do it in the right way.

Always remember that the fire heats, but also burns, and we are not only talking about the risk when lighting it, but also about details of the firewood to be used, the accumulation of waste, periodic maintenance and other considerations.

So let’s tell you how to use your fireplace safely.

We will focus these lines on the safety measures that we must observe to keep to a minimum the risks inherent in the unsafe use of chimneys.


• Fire resistance

Our fireplace once lit will be the meeting place for the family. Always ensure that the material used in its construction is resistant to heat and fire.

If it was built under your own supervision this is easy, but if our newly acquired house comes with a fireplace we must have it reviewed by qualified personnel who certify its aptitude prior to the first use we give it.

• Before turning it on

Let’s make sure the exit gates are open before lighting the fireplace.

Although this advice sounds obvious, it is common that when using it at the beginning of the winter season, it is closed due to the accumulation of debris with stuck objects, and this impairs the safety of ignition and could accumulate toxic smoke.

In the same way, we must ensure that flammable or sufficiently large objects are not close to the front of it to obstruct the exit of heat. To prevent the smoke from plastering inside the house we must “preheat” the outlet duct to eliminate the cold air that is in the highest part and closest to the outside.


• Never use fresh or green firewood

If you want to use the fireplace safely never use green firewood.

Firewood after cutting should be stored in a dry place, covering if stored outdoors so that the ambient humidity does not affect it.

This drying process will take at least six months to make it suitable for safe use. Fresh firewood produces a lot of smoke that enters our home and leaves more waste accumulated inside the fireplace.

• Only firewood!

For the safe lighting of our fireplace we will always avoid the use of fuels, we will only use a piece of paper to bring the fire to the wood, there are even special lighters that light the pieces of wood from a safe distance. Additionally, we must instruct our children in a very special way not to introduce materials such as plastics, fabrics, garbage, cardboard or other objects, which are not suitable for burning in indoor environments because they are polluting, produce highly dangerous fire sparks and increase the risk of burns.

• Start small

To start the fire we always recommend using small pieces and in small quantities, and then fanning the fire, introducing larger pieces of.

This becomes important if we know that when we intend to light a large fire with a lot of material, larger flames will be produced, difficult to control and we also generate more soot that will accumulate in the path of exit of the smoke and gradually can even narrow the exit passage. This practice will also make our fireplaces need maintenance less frequently.

• Never lose sight of them

When you hear this phrase what do you think about? In the smallest of the house of course! Our children, or young children in general will always be attracted by the warm sensation that is achieved with the fireplace, being able to be ecstatic by the color and sounds of fire.

We always try to keep them in sight and under our supervision to avoid accidents and bad times. In the same way we must make sure to turn off the fireplace when we go to sleep. This will prevent harmful gases and possible fires from accumulating.

• Periodic maintenance

When the wood burns and generates that pleasant temperature that we appreciate so much, it will produce smoke, which if everything goes well will come out of the duct, but it will accumulate soot and a substance called creosote that tends to accumulate in the ducts and exit gates and can even clog them.

This accumulation of waste will increase the appearance of smoke and toxic gases for the health of the family. That is why the periodic and proper maintenance of our fireplaces is so important. On the other hand, this will prevent smoke from entering the interior of the house and will also avoid unpleasant accidents with fire. We recommend cleaning our fireplace once a year, as long as measures are taken for its safe use.

This task should be entrusted to professionals trained for this task. If you follow all these tips, you will always enjoy the fireplace of your home as that great attraction of which you can boast. Heed the advice and considerations of professional chimney sweeps you trust.

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By Catharine Bwana