Safety Tips for Having a Wood-Burning Fireplace

A wood-burning fireplace is a great feature to have in any home, but as with anything else, there are a number of safety precautions that you need to take into consideration. Wood-burning fireplaces can also be a serious hazard to you and your family, particularly if there are young children in the home. Therefore, it is essential that you keep some important safety tips in mind. Read on as we share our top 5 safety tips for having and using your wood-burning fireplace.

Have Regular Professional Inspections

Have a qualified contractor experienced in chimney repair inspect your fireplace and chimney regularly. A good time to do this would be before you use it for the first time each year and after the season is over. Here at Atlanta Chimney Doctor, our experts perform thorough inspections to spot any issues.

Check Often for Buildup

As you use your fireplace, a substance known as creosote will build up in your fireplace and in your chimney. As it is safe to do so, check your chimney for excess creosote buildup and have a chimney sweep come to perform a chimney inspection and cleanup of this buildup so that you can continue to use your fireplace throughout the season without serious health issues and fire damage.

Only Burn Firewood

Often people will burn whatever wood they can find without really thinking about whether that wood has been treated. Pretreated and wood that has been treated or painted will release toxic fumes into your home if burned in your fireplace, so make sure not to burn these at all. Make sure that you are only ever burning firewood in your fireplace and leave any construction scraps, garbage, or wood that you are unsure whether it has been treated already out where it belongs.

Do Not Make It Easily Accessible

Many people have fire-related accidents in their homes because they simply did not take the proper precautions to protect their homes and families from the fire damage. Make sure that you have installed sufficient screens and fire-resistant glass doors in front of your fire that have locking mechanisms on it to keep small hands out of the fireplace, even when you think it is not hot enough to burn them.

Have Any Blockages Cleared

Make sure that there are no blockages in your chimney or flue that would prevent smoke and ash from escaping your home. Smoke inhalation is a very serious danger to home occupants and if you have young children in the home, this can be especially dangerous for lungs that are not completely developed yet. Professional chimney repair can help you determine whether your wood fireplace is safe to use as well as identify any blockages that might prevent smoke and ash from ventilating out and away from your home properly.


Things to Know about Chimney Liners

There’s nothing like a cozy fire when the temperature drops. Fireplaces and stoves are an excellent way to heat your home, but it’s important to maintain your chimney as well as your fireplace. It’s also important to keep your chimney liner in good condition or to have one installed if your chimney currently does not have a liner. Here are some things you should know about chimney liners.


Chimney liners keep your home safe in three important ways. The first function of a liner is to keep heat from transferring to materials that could catch fire, including woodwork that surrounds the chimney.

The second function of a liner is to keep flue gases from going into the mortar and brick of the chimney. Fires have corrosive byproducts that can eventually wear away the chimney materials if the gases are able to penetrate these materials. This also increases the risk of dangerous carbon monoxide leaking into the home as the chimney wears away.

The final purpose of a chimney liner is to increase the efficiency of stoves and furnaces. If the liner is an incorrect size, gases won’t escape properly and the draft that aids in combustion won’t be optimal. This can cause creosote buildup and additional carbon monoxide.

Liner Materials

Older chimneys likely have clay tiles to form a liner. They work well and are not very expensive, but there are some disadvantages to clay. It’s more difficult for clay to absorb and distribute heat, which can cause problems in the event of a chimney fire. The tiles will crack, making the liner less effective and requiring replacement.

Stainless steel liners are much more common today for a number of reasons. They are an excellent choice for upgrading or repairing chimneys because they work for any type of fireplace, stove, or furnace. If you need a new liner, we can install a quality stainless steel liner.

Advantages of Steel

  • Most companies that install chimney liners recommend stainless steel as a replacement for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most appealing advantage of stainless steel is that it has a lifetime warranty, so it’s obvious that is a durable material
  • Another advantage of stainless steel is that it provides the best protection for your fireplace and home than any other material. You can cut costly chimney repairs because the brick and mortar will be protected from corrosive byproducts.
  • Since stainless steel liners are installed as one piece, there is no shifting or cracking that could allow dangerous gases to leak into your home.
  • Stainless steel liners can be insulated before insertion into the flue, or insulation can be added afterwards. This keeps combustion gases hotter all the way out the chimney, reducing creosote condensation. Cold downdrafts when not burning a fire are also reduced.


Why Chimney Maintenance Is Important

Having a fireplace is often considered a luxury. Sitting in front of a warm fire during the winter certainly feels comfortable and luxurious, especially if it’s storming outside. However, both fireplaces and chimneys need to be properly maintained in order to keep the inhabitants of the house safe all year round.

Prevention of House Fires

If a fireplace is not appropriately ventilated, then there is a greater risk for the occurrence of devastating house fires. That’s why there are regulations in place that define how a fireplace should be built. Size isn’t the only thing that matters, but builders also have to consider clearances, height, and location in addition to ensuring that the fireplace is properly installed.

Calling a Chimney Sweep

Touching a chimney sweep is considered good luck in many parts of the world. And while you may not win the lottery after the chimney sweep has been to your house, at the very least, your chimney will be properly cleaned. The more often your fireplace is used, the more often it needs to be cleaned out because of creosote buildup. It’s recommended to have your chimney cleaned once a year in order to prevent chimney fires.

Chimney cleaning needs to be done properly. Surprisingly, water is actually a chimney’s worst enemy. In fact, homeowners are advised to prevent water absorption into the chimney for that reason. Chimneys are cleaned with wire or chimney brushes that have to be long enough to reach the entire length of the chimney. But since animals like to nest in chimneys, it’s recommended to hire an expert to take care of the chimney maintenance for you.


How to Prepare Your Fireplace for Winter

The leaves are falling from the trees in Georgia and the temperatures are dropping, and you are reminded that you need to get your fireplace cleaned and inspected before you start using it. Chimney sweeps aren’t just characters in the Mary Poppins film; they are actually professionals who can get your fireplace and chimney system in spit-spot shape. Creosote is deposited on the interior walls of a chimney in the process of burning wood and is very flammable, which is why your chimney needs to be cleaned regularly and inspected.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you have all the elements of your chimney system cleaned and inspected at least once a year. When we perform a chimney service, the fireplace, flue, damper, smoke shelf, smoke chamber, chimney cap, and firebox will be cleaned and inspected. If you have problems with rain, birds, and small animals getting into your chimney, the cap can be fitted with wire-mesh on the sides to help with these issues.

If any broken bricks or cracks in the chimney are found, our professionals at Atlanta Chimney Doctor repair them. Gas fireplace logs, as they age, can create dust particles that might start interfering with the gas getting to the flame. During the cold fall and winter months, if you notice changes in how your fireplace or stove is working, getting a professional to come in and determine what has caused the changes is a good idea for safety reasons.

A professional can light a small fire in the stove or fireplace or turn on the gas logs to do a smoke test, which ensures that the smoke is going where it needs to go without any blocks or clogs. Any ashes or soot that resulted from the cleaning will be removed, leaving a clean firebox ready for your next fire.


Considerations for a Fireplace: Health Effects

When you think of a nice fireplace, you probably conjure up happy images of cozy nights and hot chocolate. While this is all definitely related to a lovely fireplace, you may not be properly considering some of the dangers associated with having one in your home. There are some important health concerns and regulations for you to be educated about in order to enjoy your fireplace without putting you and your family in needless danger.

While the homey smell of a fireplace is very different from that of an exhaust pipe of a car, studies are finding that the particles emitted by both heat sources are very similar. When you breathe in smoke from your fireplace, it is the same as breathing in the exhaust from your minivan, and the negative effects are especially dangerous for children with asthma.

If you want to safely enjoy your fireplace, then make sure you do the following:

  • Get your chimney serviced on a regular basis
  • Clean away the ashes
  • Burn safe and dry wood to lessen the amount of smoke
  • Gain a working knowledge of your flue and how it works


Why Chimney Caps Are Useful

Chimney caps are a cheap and easy addition to your home. If you do not have a cap on your chimney, then you need to understand that they can be useful in three important ways. If you are getting a chimney cap, be sure to get one that will protect your home and family from all three of these problems listed below.

3 Reasons to Get a Chimney Cap

Weather: All forms of precipitation (rain, snow, ice) and even dew can get into your home through your chimney unless you have a cap over it. The moisture from this water can cause serious damage to your chimney. It becomes even worse when it mixes with the soot that sits on the walls of your chimney. The structure of the chimney will deteriorate and may even crack, which will require a very expensive repair. This is just one reason professionals recommend chimney caps.

Animals: Even large pests, such as squirrels and bats, can get into your home through the chimney. These pests pose a serious danger to your home and the people in it because they carry disease and will damage your home just by being there. They may make a nest in your chimney and have easy access to the rest of your home. In addition, their nest can block the passage for smoke when you set a fire, which will cause the smoke to back up into your home—this can result in smoke damage to the home and carbon monoxide poisoning to the people inside. A chimney cap with a strong mesh wiring over it will keep pests out of your chimney.

Fire: On rare occasions, an ember can fly out of your chimney onto your roof, starting a fire. Because even the smallest spark can start a house fire, it is smart to have a cap in the way to keep these embers safely contained.


5 Chimney Safety Tips to Protect Your Household

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, there are an average of 24,300 structural fires every year originating from the chimney or fireplace. The best way to prevent this from happening is learning safety tips that you can use to help maintain your chimney and protect your household.

Conduct Frequent Inspections

Hire a certified company with trained professionals to conduct an inspection for obstructions. They should make sure that the flue is capped to prevent rain, animals, and debris from getting inside.

Hire Chimney Sweepers

Every year, have chimney sweepers come to your home to clean away the soot (also called creosote). The soot can pile up in your chimney and, since it’s flammable, can become very dangerous to you and your home.

Install Smoke Detectors

Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. Although you can find plug-in units, ones that hang close to the ceiling would be ideal to detect the problem quicker.

Fuel Choice

Choose seasoned hard wood to prevent out of control fires. Don’t use your Christmas tree, pressure-treated wood, painted scrap pieces, or liquid starters.

Room Design

When it comes to laying out your furniture around the fireplace, make sure that everything is at least 36-inches from from your fireplace. Over time, the heat can cause furniture to become more flammable, so protect yourself by moving the furniture back.

Above all else, never leave your fireplace burning unattended. You should always watch it closely, so you can protect your family and your home if anything happens.


Gas Vs. Wood Fireplaces: A Comparison

A fireplace is a great addition to any home. It can be an efficient heating system, provide a place to cuddle up on a cold night, and can be a great center of a room. As you look at fireplaces, you will need to choose between two popular options: a gas fireplace and a wood-burning fireplace. Look at this quick comparison to help you decide which option is best for you.

Gas Fireplaces

A gas fireplace is very easy to turn on and control the temperature. You simply need to flip a switch and set the fireplace to a desired temperature. Once the fireplace heats the room to that temperature, it will keep it there.

A gas fireplace does not require much maintenance either. Once you are done with your fire, you must simply turn it off and walk away. You may need a professional to look at it occasionally. However, a gas fireplace does have a few cons. They often cost more to operate, and you don’t get the “real fire experience.”

Wood-Burning Fireplaces

A wood-burning fireplace is cheaper to operate. Fueling a fire with wood rather than gas is much more cost-effective, and it also has a less damaging impact on the environment. If you are careful about your carbon footprint or want to save money, this is the better choice.

A wood fire takes more time to heat up the room because it takes a while to start and most of the heat escapes out of the chimney. It is also more difficult to control the temperature of the room. You will need to clean out the ashes after the fire is done.

A real fire provides an ambiance that cannot be provided with any other fire. You can hear the crackle of the logs, watch the flames dance, and smell the wood burning.