Fireplace and Wood Stove Safety Tips to Avoid Damage to Your Home


The days may be getting warmer, but Minnesota nights can still be chilly. Fireplaces and wood stoves can create a warm and inviting space in your home but they carry some risk and require some know-how on how to properly use them. Here are a few tips from our friends at North Star Mutual Insurance Company on how to use your fireplace or wood stove safely:


Tip #1 - Practice Safe Burning


Use wood stoves only to burn wood. Avoid burning trash or paper as wood stoves are not designed to withstand the high heat generated by paper and other similar products.


Do not start a fire using flammable liquid.


Never leave a burning stove or fireplace unattended.


Tip #2 - Avoid Creosote Buildup


Creosote is a byproduct of wood combustion that consists mainly of tar. Traces of creosote are found in the smoke that rises from open flames; when the smoke travels upward and mixes with cold air and water near the top of a chimney, it solidifies and sticks to the chimney liner (or, if the chimney is unlined, the brickwork itself). (Chimney and Wildlife Specialists)


Burn dry, well-seasoned wood. Wood should be stored about 9 months so that it is good and dry.


Don't over fire or under fire the system. Never overload the stove with wood, but build it hot enough so that creosote will not accumulate.


"The main issue with creosote is that it’s extremely flammable. As the amount of creosote inside the chimney flue increases so does your risk of a chimney fire. And not only can a chimney fire completely wreck your chimney and mantel, but it can also turn into a destructive and deadly house fire.." – Chimney and Wildlife Specialists

Check your system monthly and clean it when creosote begins to accumulate.


Proper cleaning brushes should be used to clean the chimney so not to damage the liner. It is also suggested to invest in periodic professional cleaning and maintenance.



Tip #3 - Dispose of Ash Properly


Ashes should be placed in a metal container with a tight fitting cover. Never set the container on a combustible floor.


Hot or warm ashes should be kept outside away from the home to cool.


Tip #4 - Have the Proper Safety Equipment in Your Home


Before you use your fireplace or wood stove, make sure you have the following safety equipment on hand and installed:


  • fire extinguisher

  • smoke detectors

  • carbon monoxide alarms

  • stovepipe temperature gauges and alarm systems



It's a good time to review safe burning practices


It is always a good time to review safe solid fuel burning practices. Refresh yourself and others in the home so that everyone know how to safely manage the controlled fire, and so they know what to do in case of an emergency.