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An indoor wood-burning fireplace offers ambiance, warmth and relaxation. But even with all those benefits, it's worth keeping in mind that heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in US homes according to the National Fire Protection Association. Approximately two out of every five home fires involve solid-burning fuel.
We spoke with Leroy Hite, CEO and founder of Cutting Edge Firewood in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, to get his top tips for indoor wood-burning fireplace safety.
Have Your Fireplace and Chimney Professionally Inspected
Regular inspection is part of proper fireplace maintenance. The cost for a chimney sweep inspection will be around $200 to $300. That cost is well worth it to protect against a house fire due to chimney defects or excessive soot buildup, the most common cause of chimney fires.
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"When you have a fire, there's always a little bit of soot buildup in the chimney. If you burn wood that has a lot of moisture, you'll have more soot, because the fire does not burn as hot, allowing more soot to move up the chimney and build up," Hite says. "That buildup could catch fire and cause a chimney fire."
Use Kiln-Dried or Dry, Fresh Wood
Moisture builds up in pockets of wet or rotted wood which can then explode in the fire, sending a little piece of hot wood into your living room. "I went to a customer's house a couple of years ago and was shown where a log exploded and put burn marks in a couch that was 10 feet away," Hite says. "Fortunately, no one was hurt, but that wood was very wet."
Double Check That the Flue Is Open
Make sure your flue is fully open before you start your fire. "Once you have a hot, blazing fire going, it can be difficult to open the flue," Hite says. "Then you have a roaring fire, with smoke and maybe flames coming into your living room or den."
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Ensure Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors Function
You'll want to be able to hear alerts from a well-positioned carbon monoxide detector, in case your flue closes by accident when the fire is dying down and begins using up oxygen in the house.
Use a Screen
Having a screen in front of the fire is especially important when you're not in the room. When you're in the room, you can remove the screen at your own risk, Hite says.
Use a High-Quality Grate or Fireplace Andirons
Grates and andirons prevent the wood from rolling out of the fireplace. Low-quality grates can slowly melt and droop, allowing logs to roll off the front. You could instead opt for andirons, a pair of solid bracket supports to lay logs on in an open fireplace.
Place a Large Log at the Front when Fire-Building
Use smaller pieces behind it. When the fire burns and collapses, the hot pieces fall back, rather than forward, into your living room. And don't stack wood so high that hot pieces can fall out of the fireplace as the fire burns.
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Invest in Fireplace Tools and Firefighter Gloves
A good fireplace tool set may include a tool stand, natural fiber broom, poker, shovel and tongs, all of which help you move the burning wood safely and keep your fireplace tidy. "I do a lot of cooking over a fire, and so I use firefighter gloves every day," Hite says. "You can reach right into the fire."
Have a Fire Extinguisher Nearby and Readily Accessible
Know where it is and how to use it properly. Inspect it annually, too.
Keep Small Children Away From Fireplaces
Not much needs to be said about this. Be incredibly careful if you plan on having an open fire around children or pets.
Make Sure Fires in a Fireplace Insert Burn out Before Bedtime
An insert, or prefab fireplace, is made of metal, not brick or stone. "An insert is not a durable as a real fireplace," Hite says, which makes it more dangerous to leave fires burning in them overnight.
Take Care with Fireplace Ashes
A hot ember can last up to a week in a metal trash can or fire bucket, Hite says, so douse ashes in a lot of water or wait at least that long before pouring them out. (They can provide nutrients for flower and vegetable gardens, so consider depositing them there.)
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"If you only wait two days and then throw un-doused ashes in the woods, you can start a fire," Hite says.
An outdoor patio heater is an effective way to bring a little more warmth to your outdoor living space so you use it more often, especially on those chilly nights early and late in the season. Go beyond an outdoor fireplace and add even more warmth to your ultimate backyard with one of these highly-rated patio heaters. Check out 40 more of our favorite outdoor woodworking projects that can be incorporated into any backyard idea.
When purchasing an outdoor heater, make sure it will be powerful enough to heat your space. Outdoor patio heaters that run on propane have a BTU number, used to measure thermal (heat) energy. You'll need to know the number of square feet you want to heat.
According to homeair.org, you can calculate the number of BTUs (British Thermal Units) you need with this formula: The area in square feet times the current temperature in Fahrenheit minus the desired temperature. That gives you the minimum BTUs you should have. Electric heaters measure heating power in watts. One watt of electricity produces 3.4 BTUs, so 10 watts of power equals 34 BTUs. (Yes, there's math involved, but it's easy!)
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This powerful kerosene heater projects 23,800 BTUs in all directions, making it a great choice for heating large open-air areas.
A great option for evenings around the patio table, this electric umbrella heater from Hiland warms up to 15 square feet and is designed to work under patio umbrellas. With three burners and a variable temperature control, it's a great way to stay warm once the sun sets.
Buyers noted it was easy to install and remove when you need to put the umbrella away. Yet another reason why we think this is one of the best outdoor patio heaters. These 15 ideas for outdoor string lights will make you want to live outside.
This propane patio heater from Fire Sense comes in several colors and offers 46,000 BTUs. It has an auto shut-off tilt valve and can be assembled for you for an additional fee. While this is advertised as a commercial heater, many homeowners use it to heat patios and porches as one of the most powerful outdoor heaters.
"My husband and I purchased two of these, but so far we've only needed to turn on one, even though we have a relatively large backyard," said one buyer. "These lamps are very sufficient with heat output. My husband assembled them alone, without any issues." Plus, check out these 15 perfect patio designs.
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Propane Heater by Hiland
With 40,000 BTUs, this propane heater from Hiland is stylish and functional. The heater is more than seven feet tall and has a two-piece quartz glass tube that will complement any outdoor setting.
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One reviewer noted, "Used it all last summer with no issues. Very easy to use and starts almost immediately." Here are the things you must know when using space heaters.
Great for those who may want to move the heater from one spot to another, this propane heater from Sunjoy has wheels for easy transport and mobility. It heats out to 9-1/2 feet and features a safety shutoff valve in case it tips over.
"The heater feels very sturdy and well-made. We can't wait to enjoy those cool California nights out on the patio this winter," said one buyer. These are the 10 best patio ideas for small spaces.
A great option for the patio, porch or under a pergola, this electric infrared heater from PatioBoss is easy to operate, with remote function and a 24-hour timer. The carbon fire tube carries a 5,500-hour lifespan, and users noted the heater's temperature control is easy to use. Plus, here’s why you shouldn’t plug space heaters into power strips.
Stylish, efficient and great for your next patio party, this tiki propane heater from Thermo has a dancing flame in a pyramid-style column which produces radiant warmth. It has an output of up to 45,000 BTUs and has a built-in safety valve if the unit is tilted or tipped over. Reviewers noted instructions were easy to follow. Create a backyard oasis with these DIY projects.
With three power levels, this electric heater from WDERNI is great for barbecue areas, patios, gardens and garages. "It is very nice outdoor heater and it perfectly works very well for the parties at my backyard in winter," said one buyer.
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Partial assembly is required and the heater uses three halogen fire tubes. Plus, build a stone or brick patio that is perfect for entertaining.
Great for smaller spaces, this water-resistant oscillating electric heater from Geek Heat offers 1,200 watts of power and is safe for indoor use as well as out on the patio or deck. It has a two-heat setting and 120-degree oscillation for heat distribution.
"Don't expect a furnace like heat, this definitely is not for large rooms, but it does heat up a small area fast and works quietly," said one reviewer. Don't even think about building a backyard fire pit without doing these things first.
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Propane Heater — AmazonBasics
Although described as a commercial heater, many reviewers say they use this propane patio heater at home with much satisfaction. "This is a great product. Inexpensive, easy (and actually kinda fun) to assemble, and it works better than products that cost many times more," said one buyer.
With 46,000 BTUs, it can heat up larger spaces and has wheels for easy mobility. This is what you need to build a DIY backyard movie theater.
With a 24-hour timer, three heating levels and 1,500 watts of power, this radiant heater from Blumfeldt can be used on the patio or porch or brought inside when needed. It's safe, user-friendly and compact so you can easily move it from room to room.
"We have it outside in our screened in porch and it does a great job with putting out some heat," said one reviewer. "Level three actually is a bit too strong, had to turn it to level two. The heat can be felt from several feet away. Looks nice as well. Really does not take up a lot of room. The animals seem to enjoy the heat as well." Plan the ultimate backyard barbecue with these 12 tips.
Great for the porch, this wall-mounted heater from ART TO REAL will warm up your space quickly. It offers 5,100 BTUs and comes with a timer and a remote. It's safe for patios and pergolas, as well as in the garage and the shed. Up next, learn the best space heaters for every room.