FireplaceA fireplace adds a sophisticated beauty to nearly any style of home. The ability to relax by the fire after a hard, cold Philadelphia day is a luxury many of us enjoy. The fireplace can be as dangerous as it is lovely. Review these fireplace safety tips to prevent a dangerous situation with your fireplace:

Proper Equipment: Before burning the first fire in your fireplace, make sure you have the right equipment on hand. You’ll need a small broom to sweep away any stray ash, a bucket for ashes, a poker to make sure you aren’t burned if you need to move a burning log, and a screen to protect your flooring and furniture from the occasional popping cinder.

Fire Guard: Consider installing a metal or glass door or screen to protect your home from flying embers as well as improve the efficiency of your fireplace. Many door types include dampers and a blower to blow heat into the room more efficiently.

Yearly Inspection: Have a certified chimney sweep inspect your chimney, flue, and fireplace once a year. Many homeowners schedule an inspection at the same time they change smoke detector batteries. Performing both tasks simultaneously is an easy way to remember when they’re due.

Spot Inspections: In addition to a yearly professional inspection, you must visually inspect your fireplace and chimney on a regular basis. Call a certified chimney sweep if you notice something out of place or have any concerns.

Watch for Buildup: Creosote buildup is very dangerous and must be dealt with as quickly as possible. Creosote is very flammable, and is the cause of many chimney fires. Soot buildup also poses a danger for the health and safety of your fireplace and chimney.

Burn Hardwoods: Maple, oak, ash, and birch are among the best woods to burn in your fireplace. Hardwoods contain a lower amount of pitch and sap, which makes them a cleaner-burning wood. These types of hardwood generate less creosote and soot than other types of wood.

Don’t Overload the Firebox: A roaring fire doesn’t really warm the house more quickly, and it puts a lot of undue stress on the entire fireplace and chimney. A very hot fire can crack the flue or the chimney, causing serious damage.

Watch for Smoke: Where there’s fire, there’s going to be smoke. Make sure the smoke from your fire goes up through the chimney instead of into the interior of your home. Call a certified chimney sweep at the first indication that the smoke from your fireplace isn’t going up the chimney as it should.

Never Ignore Potential Problems

A fireplace can be a wonderful addition to a home as long as it isn’t misused. Don’t ignore potential problems with your fireplace, flue, or chimney. Don’t write off small issues that seem unimportant without first talking to a certified chimney sweep to make sure things are safely in order.