Fire safety warning for Felixstowe peninsula: Checks to do before lighting the fireplace this winter

By Derek Davis

7th Dec 2023 | Local News

Check before you light (Picture: Pixabay)
Check before you light (Picture: Pixabay)

Avoid these common risks when lighting the fireplace.

As the chill of winter sets in, many turn to their cosy fireplaces for warmth. However, this presents a risk to many family homes as the National Fire Protection Association quotes almost one fifth of fire deaths are caused by heating equipment. Matthew Lake, from Guardian Safe and Vault, gives advice on how to stay safe while keeping warm this winter.

Inspection and Cleaning of Chimneys and Fireplaces

Why It's Crucial: Creosote buildup in chimneys can ignite, leading to fires.

What to Do: Schedule a professional inspection and cleaning annually for structural integrity and blockage checks.

Additional Checks: Ensure inspection of the damper, firebox for damage, and the chimney cap for clearances.

Checking for Bird Nests in Chimney Tops

Risk Assessment: Bird nests in chimneys can cause blockages, creating fire hazards and ventilation problems.

Inspection Tips: To detect signs of nesting, periodically check for debris such as twigs or leaves near the chimney base, and listen for bird sounds emanating from the chimney, indicating potential nesting activity.

Professional Removal and Prevention: Have nests removed by professionals and install a chimney guard to prevent future nesting.

Avoid Wet Logs

Increased Creosote Buildup: Wet wood doesn't burn as hotly or completely as dry, seasoned wood. This incomplete combustion leads to more smoke, which condenses and forms creosote, a highly flammable substance, in the chimney. Excessive creosote buildup significantly increases the risk of chimney fires.

Reduced Efficiency and Potential Overheating: Wet logs can cause a fire to burn at a lower temperature, leading to an inefficient heating process. To compensate, people might overload the fireplace or stove to generate more heat, which can result in overheating. Overheating of the stove or fireplace itself can create dangerous situations, including the potential for fires to spread beyond the intended confines.

Seal the Deal: Preventing Air Leaks

Importance of Air Leak Prevention: Air leaks can lead to overheating, efficiency loss, and incomplete combustion.

Carbon Monoxide Risk: Incomplete combustion due to air leaks can produce carbon monoxide, posing a serious health risk. Ensuring airtight seals is crucial to prevent CO poisoning.

Maintenance Tips: Regularly check and replace worn or damaged gaskets around stove doors and ash cleanouts for optimal performance and safety. 

Matthew Lake, emphasises, "Following a period of disuse during the warmer months, it's crucial for homeowners to perform these safety checks on their fireplaces and wood stoves. This practice is vital to protect their families and homes from potential fire hazards."


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