There’s no question about it, fireplaces are a great way to relax with family on a cold winter night, and wood-burning stoves can be an excellent source of heating your house, thus saving money on your heating bill. But both pose great insurance risks you need to be aware of, and safety hazards too.
Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can significantly help you sell a home as they are often desired by new would-be homeowners, but they are both dangerous if not properly cared for.
Let’s talk about some key fireplace and wood-burning stove safety tips that are sure to keep you and your family safe this winter season.
- Preventative maintenance – First and foremost, this is the most important tip of them all. You need to get your fireplace and/or wood-burning stove inspected on a regular yearly basis. After many years in the home, you will even learn how to inspect it yourself. Regularly inspections are a great way to make sure a house fire isn’t caused by ash or creosote buildup; a common cause to most fireplace and wood-burning stove fire incidents.
- Proper equipment use and prevention – There are many fireplace and wood-burning stove equipment pieces that can stand right in front of one of these heat-generating You can go to your local fireplace store and purchase a shield (wire-mess or glass-gate) which would stop possible fire sparks from ever reaching the carpet, curtains, rugs or even your own clothes on your body.
Note: Never have carpet installed directly in front of a fireplace or wood-burning stove as a spark could land on it and start a fire. The best flooring to install is said to be either linoleum or brick. Anything that’s not so combustible like carpet. For proper equipment usage, especially for wood-burning stoves, always adjust the air vents on it before bed and before long vacations trips too. A lot of fires for wood-burning stoves occur when these air vents are not monitored or forgotten about.
- Start the fire properly – Don’t use lighter fluid to start a fire as this could cause an explosion. Only use dry wood and with a mixture of small chunks and large chucks as the smaller one start Do not use charcoal either to put inside your fireplace or wood-burning stove. Charcoal is made for barbecue grills and can also let off harmful carbon monoxide into your home. Breathing in this gas too long and undetected can actually cause death.
- Keep small kids away – Do not leave small children unattended around open fireplaces or wood-burning stoves for even 5 seconds. That’s just enough time for them to test how hot fire is by putting their hand into the fire causes serious burns which may require an emergency room visit. Or, they could get too close and a spark could jump on them also cause severe body burns. Most toddlers haven’t learned the “stop, drop and roll” technique at those ages.
- Safe wood to burn – Believe it or not, you can’t just stick any old firewood into your fireplace or wood-burning stove. Too many times people think all firewood is created equal, but it’s really not. Try to stay away from burning woods that are green or wet. They will produce a lot of smoke inside your house, some possible odor issues and build up creosote fast causing a chimney
Try to go for well-seasoned quality firewood (wood with less water in it.). This will help to ensure your fireplace and wood-burning stove only burn clean and more efficiently.
- Test smoke detectors in the house – Make sure you have a functioning fire detector and if you do not already have one, you can now purchase carbon-monoxide detectors as well.
- Storing the firewood – It is not recommended to store your firewood in wet places as the wood will absorb a lot of the moisture around it. This will make the wood rot before you even get a chance to use it. Inside of garages or in wood sheds are best as they allow for air to pass through keeping the firewood dry.
Lastly, and for insurance purposes. It is very important to tell your insurance company you have a fireplace or a wood-burning stove. Sometimes, they send an inspector out so there’s no way around it anyway. But sometimes, they do not send one. It’s in your best interest to inform your insurance company. If a spark from the fireplace or the wood-burning stove popped out and burned your couch and a large portion of a neighboring wall, you could be stuck footing the bill as the insurance company had no knowledge such a heat source was in your home and may not cover the damages.
Dempsey, Weiss & Associates understands all the risks associated with fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. We’ll help you to understand and safeguard against them too.