More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes during the fall and winter months. The Public Adjusters, a public adjuster firm based in Tampa, FL, warn homeowners to use caution and prevent fire damage when using these types of heat sources.
Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in more rural areas every year. These fires often are due to creosote buildup in chimneys or stovepipes. The Public Adjusters remind that all home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.
Fire safety steps to prevent fire damage from heat sources:
- Keep Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean
- Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.
- Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures.
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned yearly by a certified chimney specialist.
- Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
- Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces that do not have a glass fireplace door
- Leave glass doors open while burning a fire in a fireplace. Leaving the doors open ensures that the fire receives enough air to ensure complete combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney.
- Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
- Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
- Never burn cardboard boxes, leaves, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.
- When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home, in order to prevent a stray spark.
Protect the Outside of Your Home
- Stack firewood outdoors away from your home.
- Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other flammable debris.
- Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester, in order to stop stray sparks.
- Remove branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents in order to prevent possible spark transference.
Protect Your Family
- Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.
- Extend all vent pipes at least three feet above the roof.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas.