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Furnace & Fireplace Safety

This is the time of year to clean your fireplaces and follow these safety tips to keep those home fires burning safely.

Before the start of every heating season, have your chimney inspected by a professional for proper installation, cracks, blockages, leaks, or creosote build-up.  Creosote is a chemical substance that forms when wood burns and accumulates in chimneys.  If allowed to build up it can cause a chimney fire if not removed.

Combustible buildup inside a chimney before proper cleaning

Your Chimney, Fireplace & Furnace

►   Have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary and be sure to open the flue for adequate ventilation when using the fireplace.

►   Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.

►   Do not use excessive amounts of paper to build a roaring fire. It is possible to ignite creosote (a by-product of wood fires) in the chimney.

►   Always use a fire screen and burn only materials appropriate for fireplaces, such as seasoned hardwood.

►   If using manufactured fire logs, read and follow the directions on the package. Never break the logs or use more than one log at a time. 

►   Never burn trash or paper in a fireplace.  Burning paper can float up your chimney and land on your roof or in your yard.

►   Add wood to fireplaces carefully; sparks can fly into the room while the screen is open.

►   NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire heat up again and force carbon monoxide into the house.

►   Always use a metal mesh screen.

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

►   Remove ashes from the grate by placing them in a metal container. 

►   Keep firewood stacked outdoors and away from your home. 

►   Bring in only as much wood as you need for one evening. 

►   Make sure you have a mesh screen spark arrester covering your chimney to prevent hot ember from landing on your roof or on your neighbor’s roof.

►   Always remove obstructions like bird nests inside the chimney or tree branches hanging above the chimney. 

Benefits of a Natural Gas Fireplace

Replacing your wood-burning fireplace with a clean-burning natural gas fireplace, fireplace insert or gas log can increase the value of your home and serve as a good source of extra heat.  They also eliminate messy ash build-up, dangerous creosote in chimneys and sparks or flying embers.

Other Heating Safety Tips

►   Have your furnace checked and cleaned regularly by a qualified repairperson.

►   Check to be sure all furnace automatic controls and emergency shutoffs are in good working condition. 

►   Keep space heaters at least three feet (1meter) away from furniture, bedding, walls, clothing and other things that can burn.


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© 2004 Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District
Last modified: April 10, 2006