With joyous holidays behind us, there’s no denying there’s a lot of winter still ahead. That means it’s the perfect time to enjoy your gas fireplace and make your home bright, beautiful and warm. But there are also some steps to follow to ensure those we love stay safe around the hearth. Let’s take a look at some fireplace safety tips. Keep in mind that most of these apply year round:
- Make sure any room with a fireplace also has a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.
Use a fireplace screen. It’s a great option to keep your hearth safe and beautiful. Code in most areas requires that each fireplace have a screen, whether or not they have a glass front. The screen does three important jobs:
- Ensures sparks and other sources of ignition stay separated from your living space.
- Prevents casual contact with flame or objects the fire has heated, including the glass.
- Keeps stray objects (such as a child’s toy) from striking the front glass or entering the fireplace itself.
- If your fireplace is equipped with a glass front, be careful that no one touches the glass itself. It can be heated to very high temperature. In fact, temperatures might rise high enough to cause skin to adhere to the surface, making burns more traumatic.
- You should also take care when wearing a coat or jacket. We’ve seen cases where homeowners come in from the cold, then stand or sit close to the fire to warm themselves. Without noticing, they end up pressing part of their coat against the hot glass, melting the fabric onto it.
- Keep your mantle clear, or at least give careful thought to what’s displayed on it. Make sure nothing is able to hang down where it might catch fire.
- Keep combustible objects away from the hearth. Your fireplace owner’s manual will specify how far away items should be kept, and if you don’t have it handy you can usually find a PDF copy online. To be sure you’re looking at the correct manual (and to make the search process easier) use your unit’s model and serial numbers. On most gas fireplaces, you’ll find these on a sticker placed near the gas valve; on freestanding models the information will be on the back of the unit.
- Keep an eye out for furniture that’s too close, too. As the nights grow colder, furniture can be gradually moved in near enough to create a fire hazard. Again, it’s a good idea to consult your owner’s manual to see what the recommended distances are.
- Watch out for trip hazards in the fireplace area, including the hearth extension. It’s relatively easy for children and elderly family members to trip on it, so consider purchasing guards for it.
- Don’t burn any foreign materials in your gas fireplace, including firewood. Don’t use the fireplace to dispose of documents, which is something it’s not designed for and can damage your fireplace. If you have documents you need to destroy for security reasons, it’s best to use a shredder.
- If you haven’t had the annual maintenance for the unit done yet, there’s no time like the present. An annual inspection and service can detect issues that need to be addressed and will keep your fireplace in its best working condition.
One last tip: Don’t let the need to practice safety stress you out. Your gas fireplace is like any other feature of your home. Using it safely just requires following the manufacturer’s recommendations and using common sense at all times.
A blazing hearth makes the best moments even more special, and that’s one of the reasons we love helping Colorado families make their homes more cheerful and bright. We at Fireplace Services Denver Flame wish you the best as we move into this new year. And if your plans for the new year include a new home, we’d like to help protect you from dangerous and/or expensive fireplace problems with a Level 2 inspection before you buy. You can learn more about the Level 2 process here.