Oooh...as the temperature changes, we're reminded that the holidays are just around the corner. A fireplace adds an incredible ambiance when the family is all gathered for Christmas. Picture this: christmas tree with twinkling lights, Mom's signature holiday foods, children laughing, out-of-town guests...then all of a sudden-screaming! THE CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS THAT WERE HUNG ON THE FIREPLACE MANTEL CAUGHT ON FIRE! AH!
OK, so maybe it's not "likely" that this will happen to you but let me continue this lighthearted warning.
Protecting your home and looking for possible problem areas in advance is just as important as protecting your home with insurance.
Check out some of these characteristics of your fireplace:
Has your fireplace ever been moved? Check for cracking,settlement or separation from builing. Besides collapse, sparks could fly into cracked areas and cause a fire.
You could use a support to solve a settling/sagging hearth. A gap appearing between the hearth and the edge of the firebox might be due to inadequate hearth support - not such an ugly repair - or it might be due to settlement of the entire chimney and fire chamber away from the building - a major repair and a dangerous condition.
Check out size requirements and materials. A fireplace hearth should extend at least 16" past the front edge of the fireplace and at least 8" beyond each side of the fireplace opening.
Where the fireplace opening is 6 sq.ft. or bigger the front extension needs to be increased to at least 20" and the side extensions to at least 12" beyond the fireplace front.
The hearth for a masonry fireplace needs to be made of a brick, concrete, stone, or other (approved, listed) non-combustible material. The hearth slab needs to be at least 4" in thickness, it has to be supported by noncombustible materials or able to carry its own weight.
Check out safe distance from furniture and combustible flooring such as carpet.
Never use a fireplace if there is any doubt in it's safety. If there is any doubt, check with a professional inspector and quickly solve any problems. Do not use any fix-it-yourself remedies as they may be hazardous.
Take care, readers!