Are Indoor Fireplaces Safe?
There is a slight chill in the air already, and everyone is excited to wear warm sweaters and drink hot chocolate in front of the fireplace. However, before you light up a fire in the fireplace in your living room, it’s important to ensure that it’s safe to do so.
Every year, fireplaces indirectly lead to about 10,000 people getting sick and up to 4,000 accounts of fire damage at homes in the US. We say indirectly because people mainly get sick and suffer fire damage by using poorly maintained indoor fireplaces. Here are the top five reasons poorly maintained fireplaces can be dangerous for you and your family:
They Can Lead to Uncontrolled Fire
Poorly maintained fireplaces often mean fireplaces with cracks and gaps in their walls. These cracks and gaps in the walls of fireplaces can lead to embers and smoke entering inside the walls and starting a fire inside. Any escaped embers in the walls can result in an explosion in the fireplace. A fire explosion in the indoor fireplace can lead to the entire home setting on fire and even loss of life.
To ensure control over fires in the fireplace at your home and prevent fire damage due to the fireplace, you need to carry out a thorough visual inspection of your fireplace before you begin using it again in the winter months. Seal any cracks and gaps with cement and let them dry for at least a couple of weeks before lighting a fire in the fireplace.
They Can Lead to Chimney Failures
Cracks and gaps in the fireplace walls, if unchecked, can extend to chimney walls. A chimney with cracks and gaps can prove to be extremely dangerous. It can lead to uncontrolled fires and even the collapse of the surrounding walls.
When you inspect the walls of the fireplace, don’t forget to inspect the chimney walls too. They can develop cracks and gaps on their own even if the fireplace walls are perfectly intact. If you spot any crack or gap in the chimney walls, seal them as you would seal the fireplace walls. Let chimney walls dry before you light a fire in the fireplace.
They Can Lead to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
It can be difficult to control a fire in a poorly maintained fireplace, but it can also be difficult to extinguish a fire properly. An improperly extinguished fire can release carbon monoxide, which easily spreads into the air in your home.
Carbon monoxide is an extremely dangerous gas to inhale. It mixes with oxygen and tricks the brain into inhaling it. Once inhaled and traveled through blood, it immediately begins affecting the various organs of the body.
It takes up space in the lungs, leading to lower oxygen levels and immediate coughing, sneezing, and difficulty in breathing. Since cold and flu are common in the colder months, most people assume they’re suffering from low when they suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning. Continued exposure to carbon monoxide can result in organs shutting down due to insufficient oxygen leading to death.
To save yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning, ensure that your indoor fireplace is free of any cracks and gaps. Always ensure that the fire is put out properly before you get busy with other chores.
Installing a carbon monoxide detector is also immensely helpful in this regard. Since carbon monoxide has no taste or smell, it is impossible to detect it without the help of a detector. Regularly maintain the detector by checking its batteries. If it ever signals carbon monoxide detection, be swift in taking action about it.
They Can Lead to Chimney Fires
Fireplace maintenance isn’t only about the fireplace but is also about the chimney attached to it. Ignored chimneys can easily become a cause of fire damage in your home.
It happens because as you burn a fire in the fireplace, the smoke from the fire rises the chimney. As the temperature of the chimney is much lower than that of fireplace, fire, or smoke, the smoke quickly condenses into a gum-like substance called creosote.
Every time you burn a fire in your indoor fireplace, you add to creosote in the chimney. If you don’t clean it and let it build up and gather on the chimney walls, high flame from the fireplace can set it on fire, leading to a fire explosion in the chimney and fireplace and fire damage in your home.
You can avoid creosote from building up along the chimney walls by regularly cleaning them as per your use. You should also always clean the chimneys when the fireplace is cool. Let the chimney dry up completely after cleaning it before you light a fire in the fireplace.
They Can Lead to Smoke Damage
A poorly maintained fireplace can make the fire burn unevenly, which can throw out the smoke from the fire into your living space instead of going upwards from the chimney. Since smoke is acidic, it affects everything it comes in contact with. It can disintegrate wallpaper on your walls and other material objects placed in the room.
Moreover, inhaling smoke can severely affect your and your family’s health. It can lead to inflammation of the lungs and nasal cavity, which leads to a variety of permanent respiratory disorders.
Therefore, you need to inspect and maintain your home’s fireplace before you light the season’s first fire. While you’re at it, ensure that the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors are working perfectly fine too.
If the fire burns unevenly or if there’s too much smoke despite all the safety measures, contact a restoration service before it gets too late. Many restoration services, such as the 911 Restoration of Tampa, provide emergency restoration solutions such as fire damage restoration, smoke cleanup, smoke damage restoration, and odor cleanup.