Fireplaces are meant to burn wood but it unfortunately becomes a trash disposal option for many homeowners. Burning something other than what is actually meant to be burned in the fireplace can be extremely dangerous for more reasons that one. Here is a list of items you should NOT burn in your fireplace this winter.
- Cardboard – this is often treated with or contains man-made chemicals. When these chemicals are burned, it can release hazardous fumes into the air that are harmful to breathe in. It is also possible for the cardboard to actually float into the air as it is burning and leave the fireplace if a screen is not in place. If you do have a screen, it may travel up the flue and out of the chimney, causing an outside fire.
- Pressure Treated Lumber, Plywood, Particle Board, and Press Board- this should not be burned for the same reason as cardboard, as it often contains man-made chemicals that are harmful when burned and the vapors are breathed in.
- Unseasoned Wood – proper firewood is dried out (seasoned) for at least one year. Green wood, or wood that has not been dried out, will not burn properly and will create significant smoke and creosote buildup in the chimney. Properly dried wood is characterized by a graying color, cracking, and bark that easily falls off.
- Trash – can produce emissions that are very dangerous to breathe in.
- Plastics – will create hazardous fumes.
- Paper – just as with cardboard, it can easily go airborne once it catches on fire. For outside fires related to chimneys, stray embers are the leading cause.
- Christmas Trees – this happens quite a bit during the holiday season as people put dead branches or the trimmings when they bring home the tree and put it up. This will create significant smoke in the home as the tree is “green.”
- Christmas Decorations and Wrappings – again, the fireplace is not a trash burning facility; it is meant as a secondary heating source. These decorations and wrappings will more than likely have chemicals or coloring that can create hazardous fumes. In addition, like paper and cardboard, they are probably very light and can easily go airborne once they catch on fire.