Full Disclosure: I was compensated by Duraflame for this post, but the thoughts and opinions of are my own.
For many of us from the Atlantic Coast to the Midwest to the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Coast, it feels as though we are stuck in winter. It feels like we are in an endless world of bitter cold, knee (sometimes waist) deep snow, and a hot drink next to our fireplace.
Our fireplace, has become the centerpiece of our home. While it might make for some design challenges (except Christmas) because of the sheer size and the odd roundness of our fireplace, it has become a meeting point for our family.
As we start to prepare our fireplace for the upcoming winter, It never fails though, I’m cleaning out the ashes of fireplaces from the year before. From about March to about October, our indoor fireplace becomes a second thought in our book, even though it is the center of our living room. And because of that, I stare at the ashes as they almost dare me to see how long they will stay there before finding their way to our compost pile (where they should have been 6 months prior)
The preparation of our fireplace doesn’t stop at the point the ashes leave and now as our family grows, and having moved into a new home with a new fireplace, we have so many other things that we need to do to keep our family and our fireplace safe for the winter.
4 Tips to Keeping your Family and Fireplace Safe This Winter
Inspect and Clean Your Fireplace… Professionally
When we moved into our home, in October, and having never had a wood-burning fireplace, we made sure that we had the fireplace inspected and cleaned. We don’t know exactly how much the previous owners used the fireplace or had it cleaned but it made us feel better about using it when the inspection report came back great.
Whether you have been in your home for 30 years or a year, it is a very good idea to get your fireplace at least professionally cleaned. The soot and creosote could cause a fire that could spread into the attic and other areas of your home. Not only that, but over the summer months, if your fireplace doesn’t have a cap on top, critters might nest inside your fireplace that could cause harmful gases to come back into your home or the nest might just catch on fire.
To locate a certified professional to clean and inspect your fireplace, head over to the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
Use A Screen to Protect The Fire
Ok this might sound strange, why are you trying to protect a fire. But when you have little ones that are running the screen will help embers that might fly from your fire. Mesh screens are better than glass screens because the glass can break due to the heat build up and you might have a bigger mess on your hands than with the mesh screen.
If your fireplace has a glass screen, the best thing you can do is to keep it open while you have a fire going. Plus, if you have it closed, you won’t get the heat from the fire. Which is really the point on a cold winter’s night right?
Create A Barrier
When you have two kids that are running around the house, having a fire can seem like a HUGE hazard in your home that you might not be willing to deal with. But there are simple ways to prevent any sort of injuries that might come as a result of having a fire in your indoor fireplace. This is really easy when your fireplace is either in the wall or on the flat part of your wall. There are many baby gates or even screens that make for a great way to prevent your littles one from getting too close to your fireplace.
Our fireplace poses two problems: it is curved AND it is in the corner of the room. While, our fireplace has a wide brick ledge (which poses an all new set of hazards in our home) this leads me to the next tip to keep your fireplace safe during the winter months.
Talk To Your Kids
Letting your kids know that it is not OK to get close to the fire is key to keeping your fireplace safe over the winter. Letting them know about the dangers of it such as embers and the amount of heat that it puts off. In our case, we advise our oldest to not sit on the ledge of our fireplace because of those embers and that many times it is burning really hot and we do not want him falling back… into the fire.
Use Duraflame Logs
The reason is fairly simple, Duraflame logs are designed to burn in a controlled manner. The firelogs won’t snap and pop from the fireplace, like traditional firewood will. This isn’t to say that by burning with a Duraflame log you don’t need to use your mesh screen while using it.
The wood-wax components of the Duraflame firelog allow them to burn much more efficiently than firewood, so you only need one, 6lb firelog for a 4 hour fire compared to 25-30lb of firewood. That’s a lot less storage & hassle! That nasty creosote and soot buildup will be reduced as a well by burning with a Duraflame log, making your indoor fireplace even safer while you are staying warm.
Your fireplace can be safe when used properly, a source of heat when you need it, and still be a beautiful centerpiece to your living room when used properly.