As we are coming to the time, as seasons change from summer to fall, when we will all be enjoying more time indoors, we will notice an uptick in the cozy chimneys of our neighbors emitting wisps of smoke. It’s a perfect time to gently remind you about the crucial precautions to take when utilizing your fireplace. We understand that the allure of clearing out garages, old file boxes, closets, and sheds can be strong, but it’s imperative to exercise caution when selecting fuel for your firebox. Incorrect choices can pose serious hazards to your home and chimney, both inside and out.
Fireplaces are purpose-built for burning wood, yet regrettably, they sometimes serve as makeshift disposal units for various household items. Burning materials other than the intended wood can be perilous for multiple reasons. Here’s a comprehensive list of items that should unequivocally remain absent from your fireplace this winter:
- Cardboard: Often treated with or containing synthetic chemicals, burning cardboard releases harmful fumes that can endanger indoor air quality. Moreover, without a protective screen, burning cardboard might cause it to become airborne, potentially exiting through the chimney and igniting an outdoor fire.
- Pressure Treated Lumber, Plywood, Particle Board, and Press Board: These materials share the same risk as cardboard, as they frequently contain synthetic chemicals that emit harmful vapors when burned.
- Unseasoned Wood: Appropriate firewood should be seasoned, meaning it has been dried out for at least one year. Green or unseasoned wood burns inefficiently, resulting in excessive smoke and creosote buildup within the chimney. Properly dried wood exhibits a grayish hue, visible cracks, and easily shedding bark.
- Trash: Burning household waste can produce hazardous emissions that are harmful to inhale.
- Plastics: Whether it’s bubble wrap or a plastic cup, any form of household plastic should never find its way into your fireplace. Burning plastics releases toxic chemicals, including hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, dioxins, and heavy metals, posing risks to both health and the environment.
- Paper: Similar to cardboard, paper can become airborne when ignited, and stray embers are a leading cause of outdoor chimney-related fires.
- Christmas Trees: During the holiday season, it’s common to dispose of dead branches or trimmings in the fireplace. However, burning a Christmas tree, especially when it’s still “green,” can produce significant indoor smoke.
- Christmas Decorations and Wrappings: The fireplace isn’t intended for disposing of decorations or wrappings. They may contain chemicals or dyes that release hazardous fumes. Like paper products, they are lightweight and can easily become airborne once ignited.
- Fire Accelerants or Starters: Never employ accelerants like kerosene, gasoline, or grill starter fluid to kindle your fire. These substances can lead to dangerous flare-ups and excessively high temperatures, jeopardizing your fireplace and chimney’s safety.
- Dryer Lint: While effective as a fire starter, dryer lint can release toxic chemicals when burned, affecting indoor air quality and chimney cleanliness.
- Driftwood: Even well-dried driftwood should be avoided, as it may release corrosive salts when burned, potentially damaging your fireplace and chimney.
Remember, the optimal fuel for your fireplace is the one it was designed for, such as pellets for pellet stoves or dry, seasoned firewood or manufactured fire logs for wood-burning fireplaces. Using any other fuel type poses risks of toxic fumes and chimney fires to your home. Stay safe and enjoy the warmth of your chimney responsibly!
Portland Chimney Repair – Service Area
Located right here in Oregon, our Portland chimney sweep technicians provide the best in chimney repair, fireplace installation and dryer vent care in the Greater Portland-Metro area. From NE Portland down to SE Portland, Tualatin and Oregon City in the south, from Pleasant Valley in the east to Beaverton and Sherwood in the west – when it comes to your chimney, fireplace and vents, we hope you’ll call American Chimney & Masonry! We are the most trusted Portland Chimney Repair company!
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