How to Use a Fireplace

Some of our best family memories are made around the warm glow of a fireplace. These hearths serve as a centerpiece for decorations, warmth, and other occasions throughout the year. Our fireplaces do a lot to help our homes stay warm, but there is a lot we need to know before lighting up the logs.

Checking Outside
Before you light the fire inside, make sure your fireplace is in working order from the outside. Take a walk around the exterior of your home and look for any cracks or damage to your chimney. Make sure your chimney cap is in place so no animals are in your chimney. Feel free to call a chimney sweep who can go into your chimney and remove any debris that could either cause a fire or enter your home when you open the chimney vent.

If you notice any damage to the exterior of your chimney, call a repairman to come and look over it and make any necessary repairs. In addition, have them check the inside of the chimney for cracks in the chimney liners or other worries that could lead to a dangerous house fire.

Checking Inside
Grab a flashlight and inspect your fireplace flue. Make sure it opens and closes properly, seals well and there is no noticeable damage. Next, open the flue and check for any flammable items hiding in your chimney. Remove any dirt, leaves, debris or other objects that could ignite and cause a more dangerous fire.

Check inside your fireplace and chimney for any moisture. Moisture can indicate either a leak somewhere in the fireplace, or other damage that could have fatal results. Call a repairman to help with any damage or issues you find.

Lighting the Fire
Always use dry, dense wood for your fire. Damp or wet wood can take longer to light and often leftover moisture can cause sparks in the fire. Make sure you clean out the floor of your fireplace after each fire so you don’t have any ashes or other materials left that could catch on fire or cause a problem.

Never late a fire too late in the evening, and make sure you put a fire out completely before going to sleep. All logs should be placed in the rear of the fireplace and a cover should be placed in front of the fire. Do not use flammable liquids to start the fire and instead rely on kindling or start logs. Never let children near the flames or allow them to handle any fireplace materials.

When lighting a fire in your home, make sure you are doing all you can to be safe and enjoy the warmth it brings your family.

Keep Your Fireplace Safe

Getting cozy in front of a roaring fire in your fireplace can be one of the most rewarding parts of winter. It’s a chance to relax, enjoy the season, and escape from the winter chill. The warm glow makes it easy to forget that despite all of its benefits, a fireplace can be an extremely dangerous part of your home.

A fireplace can be an easy way to heat your home, roast some mallows, or even just add a little more holiday spirit to your evening. It is also easy to keep it well-maintained and safe so you can relax and warm up without worry.

Keep Combustible Materials Far Away

Make sure your hearth is clear of all items except for fireplace tools. Lighting the fireplace is inviting a large open flame into your home. The less items you have near it that can ignite, the safer you, your home and your family will be

Keep it Covered

To help have a little control over how much the fire can spread, make sure you have a screen in front of your fireplace. Most come with a metal screen you can pull to cover the flames, which should be kept close if a fire is lit. If you do not have a metal screen, you can purchase one to keep in front of the flames. If you have glass doors in front of your fireplace, make sure they are open when the fireplace is in use.

Use The Right Tools

Never reach into a fire with your bare hands, no matter how tough you think you are. Tools such as pokers and grabbers are a simple way to keep a fire burning bright without putting your hands in danger.

Keep it Clean

Clean ash out of your fireplace once it reaches the bottom of the grate to avoid danger. If you have recently had a fire, do not use a vacuum, as some coals can remain hot for up to three days. Always use a dust mask and gloves to clean out your fireplace.

Clear the Flue

Before lighting a fire, check your chimney flue for any debris. Hire a professional chimney sweep to come and inspect it and make sure everything is cleaned out. Check to make sure your damper is open before lighting a fire, and make sure to close it once the fire is completely extinguished. To keep debris out of your fireplace, consider installing a chimney cap.

Use the Right Wood

Burn only firewood in a wood-burning fireplace. When selecting wood, look for seasoned wood that has been cut and dried for at least six months. Dry wood burns more thoroughly, while wet wood can cause a lot of soot. To check, knock two pieces together; if they make a sharp sound, they are dry. Always use hardwoods such as oak, ash and maple for a better fire.

Have it Inspected

Twice a year have a certified chimney sweep come and inspect your chimney. Have them look for any cracks, obstructions or other damage that can be dangerous. Once they have cleaned your flue from any soot or debris, ask them what you can do to check your chimney yourself to keep it safer year-round.


Before lighting a fire, make sure you have properly working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in the room where the fireplace is located. Detectors, like the interconnected system made by Crossfire Alarms, can inform you in time of a potential threat in your home caused by the fireplace. If your current detectors do not work properly, consider upgrading to a more advanced and accurate system like Crossfire that is proven to alert you sooner and keep you safer.