Fireplace and Woodburning Stoves

While fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can be warm, cozy, and economical, they can also destroy your home, your belongings, and your family if you are not careful when you use them.

Consider these tips ensure safe enjoyment of your fireplace. 

  • The build-up of combustible creosote, dust-like carbon deposits, and carbon deposits in the chimney pose a dangerous fire threat. Have your chimney inspected by a professional before every heating season and cleaned if necessary.

  • Whenever you have a fire in the fireplace, always place a screen made of sturdy metal or heat-tempered glass on the hearth. This will prevent sparks or burning wood from escaping the fireplace and starting a fire in your home.
  • Burn only hard woods, such as oak or hickory. Never overload the fireplace with too many logs. 

  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and place smoke detectors throughout the house. 

  • Dispose of embers safely. Never dispose of embers in a trash can or paper bag.

  • Never use a combustible or flammable liquid to start or accelerate a fire.

  • Don't have combustible materials -- including Christmas stockings and other decorations -- close to the fireplace flame.
Wood-burning stoves can be an effective and safe means of reducing home heating costs. Yet, without proper care, the risk of fire damage is greatly increased. Most problems occur due to carelessness, lack of proper information, and poor maintenance and inspections.

The following safety suggestions may help reduce possible dangers:

  • A wood stove should bear the mark of an independent testing laboratory and meet local fire codes. 

  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper installation, use and maintenance. 

  • Chimney connections and chimney flues should be inspected at the beginning of each heating season and cleaned when necessary. 

  • Always keep the fire damper fully opened when the fireplace is in use. The same safety rules for space heaters should be followed for wood stoves. 

Return to the Safety Resource Center