How safe is your fireplace? If you’re in need of some safety tips to ensure you have all the advantages of a fireplace with minimal risk, here are some pointers for electric, wood and gas fires. Each has its own requirements for maintenance and upkeep, and for ensuring that your family and friends stay safe as well as cosy.
Let’s start with gas fires. The first and most important point here is that gas is a serious business, and although it’s a very safe and popular option, you really do need a professional to install and check it regularly. Without this, you will very likely run into legal problems and find your house insurance is invalidated. So find a pro.
When it comes to electric fires, you’ll want to ensure that any new appliance has the required safety mark that shows it meets all the requirements by law. Unplug it when you’re not using it, and don’t play around with electricity. Ensure the wires are in good condition and that you aren’t using too many plugs in one socket. Timer switches aren’t suitable for use with electric fireplaces unless they are in-built.
If you have a wood fire, don’t just throw anything on it. You could create too much soot if you use damp wood, and some kinds of solid fuel leave a residue that builds up in the chimney. It’s not a furnace for unwanted rubbish either, so choose carefully for the good of the environment, for responsible maintenance, and for good health and safety practice in your home.
Don’t leave any fire burning if you go out or overnight. That’s important to be on the safe side. When you’re in the house and able to monitor the burning and the heat, you’ll pick up on any problems swiftly and be able to act. But if you’re asleep for a few hours, or out at the shops and delayed, you’re not supervising your fire. Treat it as a potential hazard that is entirely safe as long as you treat it with respect.
Have a carbon monoxide monitor in your living space to ensure no harmful fumes are lurking, whichever kind of fire you have, because these can cause a big health problem. If you have a chimney, get it swept on a regular basis, preferably during the times of the year before you need to light the fire again. That will be a good way to ensure your chimney sweep isn’t booked up, and you don’t start a new season with an unswept chimney.
And of course, if you have children or pets, always take special care. Glass fire screens and panels can get very hot, and logs and embers can spit and roll when you’re least expecting it. Remember the ventilation. Don’t hang washing to dry over the vents on your electric or gas fireplace, and keep your appliance dusted with a dry cloth in between maintenance checks.
With those safety tips, you should have no problem. Here’s wishing you a long and happy ownership of the perfect fireplace for your home.