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Christmas Fireplace Safety – Safety Tips

Christmas Fireplace Safety: Fireplace Safety Tips for Christmas

Use the Christmas Fireplace Safety Checklist below to keep your family safe around the fireplace during the winter holidays.

Are your Christmas stockings hung on the fireplace mantel with care?

In the famous Christmas poem, the stockings were not just “hung by the chimney;” they were hung “with care.” Even in the midst of describing a nocturnal visit from Santa, the author noted one important aspect of Christmas fireplace safety!

Below are some essential Christmas fireplace safety issues to keep in mind during the holidays:

Hang Christmas stockings on the mantel ONLY when there is no fire in the fireplace.

checkYes, you can hang the Christmas stockings from the fireplace mantel but ONLY when there is no fire in the fireplace.  Plan on arranging safe places you can move the stockings to when you want to light your fireplace. Some people move the stockings to small hooks concealed on a stairway banister, on a room divider, on a book case, on the molding around an archway between two rooms, or on the inside doors of the television cabinet.

 

checkPlace Christmas trees safely away from the fireplace. Three feet away from the fireplace is the minimum recommended distance.  No one wants a forest fire, even if it is a solo tree fire, to ruin the holiday spirit!
Keep 3 feet between the Christmas tree and the fireplace.

Ammonium sulfate, a fertilizer found in the gardening section of hardware stores, can make your fresh Christmas tree fire retardant (though not fire proof). For an average-sized cut tree, mix 9 pounds of Ammonium Sulphate and 2 gallons of water in a bucket. Set the tree in the bucket for 48 hours in a cool, dark place (such as an unheated garage) before bringing the tree inside to decorate.

Make your Christmas tree fire retardant.

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Hearth gift basket of fire starters

Christmas presents, too, need to be kept at a safe distance – three feet – from a burning fire.  That wrapping paper can go up in flames quickly! Fireplace Gift Baskets are delightful holiday gifts and add a festive charm to the hearth, but because they contain fire starters such as pine cone starters and fatwood fire starters, you will certainly want to keep them not too close to the actual fire.

 

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When decorating your fireplace mantel for Christmas, keep combustible material such as holiday greenery and ribbons safely on the fireplace mantel, not draping over the edge of the mantel. A stray fireplace spark can ignite holiday decorations exposed over the fireplace mantel’s edge unless your fireplace screen is a spark guard.

Fireplace spark guards add safety.Fireplace spark guards (also know as spark arresters) are a type of fireplace screen specifically designed to prevent this. Providing more spark protection for your room than most fireplace screens, the top of spark guards’ screens curve up and seal against the fireplace surround. These spark guard fireplace screens protect your home from sparks that might try to shoot up and out of the fire.

checkCandles add a lovely touch to Christmas fireplace mantel decorations. Consider using electric candles.  If you are using real candles, to protect your mantel decorations from candle flames, use only candles with glass protection around the flames. Votive Candles in votive holders work safely on fireplace mantels. Votive candles and jar candles shield their surroundings from the flames. For other candles, consider using hurricane candle shades, available from craft stores, to safeguard your mantel decorations from candle flames.

checkYoung children and pets are charmed by the flickering flames and warmth of a Child safety grate can surround a fireplace, wood stove, BBQ grill or even a Christmas tree! fireplace fire. Fireplace safety gates (as seen at right) and fireplace child guard screens (such as the one below) are designed to keep two-footed as well as four-footed little ones at a safe distance from fireplaces and wood stoves. The safety gates have the advantage of allowing adults easy access to the fireplace for tending the fire.

 Child guard screen

 

checkDo not burn Christmas wrapping paper in the fireplace.As Christmas gifts are unwrapped, do not burn the used wrapping paper in the fireplace.  The colored papers can release toxic fumes when burned.

 

 

checkDo not burn Christmas tree in the fireplace.When it is time to take down the Christmas decorations, do not burn the Christmas tree in the fireplace.  All that unseasoned pine could start a chimney fire!  Instead, recycle it or haul it away.

 

The winter holidays, with family, friends, and home taking center stage, are a time of heavy fireplace use. Keep your hearth both merry and safe by following these simple but important Christmas fireplace safety policies.

 

 

Posted in Holidays, Safety Tagged with: ,

Fireplace Stockings Were Hung with Care

Fireplace Stockings Were Hung

A fireplace is so integral to Christmas that hanging the stockings on the fireplace mantel is a tradition that many families look forward to each year.

Clement Moore’s famous poem, The Night Before Christmas, immortalizes that moment when “the stockings were hung by the chimney with care.”

As a safety note, please remember to remove the stockings when your fireplace is lit.  On Christmas eve when all head to bed, the fire will be safely out so stockings can be hung and Santa can make his traditional entrance safely.

Some FireplaceMall.com friends have generously shared photos of their stockings hung by the chimney.  Find inspiration from their stocking designs and holiday fireplace decorations!

  • Stone Elegance

This drama of this huge stone fireplace speaks for itself. The nine matching red and gold stockings keep it simply elegant!

The number of stockings is only matched by the size and drama of the fireplace.

The number of stockings is only matched by the size and drama of the fireplace. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/haeyoc

  • Starring Pair

The sparkle and glow of this pair of stockings are highlighted by the stars and lights on the mantel.

The light and dark contrasts up the impact of this mantel display.

The light and dark contrast ups the impact of this mantel display. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/pammock

  • Be Merry

The cream colors, brass fireplace doors, and dark brick fireplace all work so well with this trio of personalized cranberry and hunter green stockings.

Cranberry and hunter green stockings are a classy take on traditional Christmas colors.

Cranberry and hunter green stockings are a classy take on traditional Christmas colors. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/cuteculturechic.

  • Textural Delight

The patchwork stockings capture the texture and variety of the rocks in this awesome fireplace wall. Lights, Christmas balls, and themed stocking hangers coordinate their colors with the stockings’.

Patchwork and applique stockings hang from the mantel of an awesome fireplace.

Patchwork and applique stockings hang from the mantel of an awesome fireplace. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/docksteader.

  • Happy Kitties

Red, green, white and a cheery holiday plaid combine in these smile-inducing, fishy stockings for the felines of the household.

Plaid, fish-shaped stockings join the ones for the humans on this cheery holiday hearth.

Plaid, fish-shaped stockings join the ones for the humans on this cheery holiday hearth. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/garbisongirl.

  • Purrr-fect Stockings

This jolly mantel and hearth signifies the abundance of Christmas  and the love for all our family members including the furry ones.  Note that each cat’s stocking is labeled with its name.  Eliminates the Christmas morning cat-fights, we’re sure.

Five cat stockings, personalized with each cat's name, are sure to keep Santa busy.

Five cat stockings, personalized with each cat’s name, are sure to keep Santa busy. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/CoolR1a

  • Cross Stitched Works of Love

How many tiny stitches went into the creation of these remarkable cross stitched stockings?! Each one unique and all in the same color scheme, these lifetime treasures were handmade by a mom of five teens.

Seven handmade-with-love cross stitched stockings adorn this Christmas mantel.

Seven handmade-with-love cross stitched stockings were hung on this Christmas mantel. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/SewSugarBeans

  • Nifty Novelty Stockings

Santa will have no trouble telling which fun stocking hanging on the impressive stone wall of this fireplace belongs to which family member!  A Christmas ball laden wreath pulls it all together.

Each stocking on this stunning stone fireplace captures the individuality of each family member.

Each stocking on this stunning stone fireplace captures the individuality of each family member. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/Laurilu61

  • Grandchildren’s Stockings

What could make a grandmother more delighted at Christmas than to have the grandkids’ stockings, each as individual and charming as the children are, adorning the fireplace?

The grandkids' stockings all hang from the proud grandparent's fireplace mantel.

The grandkids’ stockings all hang from the proud grandparent’s fireplace mantel. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/ScullySpeaks

 

  • Stacked Stone  & Stockings

The prominent keystone and the arch of this stacked stone fireplace are both repeated in the design of the mantel.  Brass stocking holders echo the brass in the fireplace doors.

The stockings hanging from the mantel of this arched fireplace await Santa's treats.

The stockings hanging from the mantel of this arched fireplace await Santa’s treats. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/MariaRollan.

  • Stockings Were Hung

Lest there be any doubt, these stockings are officially hung by the chimney with care.  What a clever, convenient and charming way to display the stockings!

This plaque with its own hooks makes it simple to display the family stockings.

This plaque with its own hooks makes it simple to display the family stockings. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/TerinAleah

  •  Just in Time for the First Fireplace

A talented grandmother cross-stitched each of these stockings.  The last one was completed just in time to hang on the family’s mantel for their first Christmas with a fireplace!  Atop the mantel is a creche scene.

The cross-stitched stockings were finished just in time.

The cross-stitched stockings were finished just in time. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/mangumission

All of these Christmas stockings were hung with care and love above the fireplace, the natural gathering place not only of family and friends but also of Santa as he fills those empty stockings. To ready your fireplace for stocking-opening day, update your fireplace screen and replace your fireplace tools if they have seen better days.

Posted in Decorating, Holidays Tagged with:

Chimney Sweep Legends and Lucky Lore

Lucky Chimney Sweep Legends, Lore and Traditions

Why are Chimney Sweeps Lucky?

Chimney sweep legends, lore and traditions were born with the invention of the chimney and have flourished every since.  What are these legends and how did they originate?

Why Is It Good Luck to Have a Chimney Sweep at a Wedding?

Legend says a chimney sweep saved the life of William the Conqueror by pushing him out of the path of a run-away horse and wagon.

As a reward, King William invited the sweep to his daughter’s wedding.  Britishers have considered chimney sweeps to be lucky ever since.  An elaboration on this legend has King William, in appreciation for the heroic act of the chimney sweep, allowing all sweeps to wear top hats, a privilege reserved at that time for the aristocracy.

Bert, the lucky chimney sweep in the movie Mary Poppins

Some lucky chimney sweep legends start with William the Conqueror.

Or maybe it didn’t happen that way at all.  Another account has a chimney sweep hanging from the gutter after slipping off the roof.  A young woman saw him dangling there and pulled him into the house, saving his life.  The chimney sweep and the maiden fell in love and were married.

Either way, it’s good luck to have a chimney sweep at your wedding, so couples would hire a sweep to attend.  Even today, some chimney sweeps can be hired to bless the bride and groom with a good luck toast at a wedding. Or a cheaper alternative is to have a willing guest dressed in a chimney sweep costume.

How Can a Chimney Sweep Share His Good Luck with You?

After the chimney sweep cleans your chimney, shake his hand for good luck.  Or young children can try to snatch a bristle of his brush for good luck.

Anytime you see a chimney sweep, not just after his has cleaned your flue, lore claims you can garner good luck by shaking his hand, touching his buttons, kissing him, or even blowing him a kiss.  Just ask Mary Poppins!  As the chimney sweep Bert, played by Dick Van Dyke, sings in the movie Mary Poppins:

Good luck will rub off when I shakes ‘ands with you
Or blow me a kiss and that’s lucky too!

Bert, the lucky chimney sweep in the movie Mary Poppins

Dick Van Dyke as Bert, the lucky chimney sweep in the movie Mary Poppins.

A further elaboration on the good luck powers of chimney sweeps has it that they can even cancel out bad luck!

If you see a chimney sweep on the roof of a house, lore says the house will be blessed.  This might have come from the fact that homes with clean chimneys don’t have chimney fires.

Why Do Chimney Sweeps Wear the Top Hat and Tails?

The traditional garb of the chimney sweep – top hat and Victorian tailcoats – came to be in the 1400’s when sweeps would don the cast-off clothes of undertakers.  The black formal wear gave dignity to the lowly profession and didn’t show the soot from chimneys!

 

Profession chimney sweeps, certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America can bring you the good luck – not to mention the peace of mind – of a clean and therefore safe chimney.  And just in case there’s some truth to those chimney sweep legends and lore,  when they are at your home, don’t forget to shake their hands or blow them kisses!

Posted in Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance Tagged with:

Ways to Spruce Up Fireplace for Christmas

Beautiful fireplace decorated for Christmas

Use these 6 ideas to spruce up the fireplace for Christmas and your holiday guests:

1.   Clean out the ashes.

A fireplace full of ashes (like an ashtray full of ashes)Cricket Ash Vac looks unkempt.  You can either scoop ashes with your fireplace shovel into an ash bucket or you can vacuum out the cold ashes with an ash vac.

The ash vac has the advantage of cleaning out the super-fine ash dust that finds its way into cracks.

Whether you use sweep or vacuum, first open the damper and crack a window in the room with the fireplace.  Any airborne ash dust will then be drawn up the chimney as you clean instead of drifting into your room. Wondering what to do with those ashes now?

2.    Remove soot and stains.

Three areas of a wood-burning fireplace are susceptible to soot and stains: the mantel, the bricks or stones surrounding the fireplace opening, and the interior of the firebox.

A soot eraser is usually sufficient for cleaning smudges from the fireplace mantel.

There are two methods of cleaning the bricks surrounding the fireplace and the interior of the firebox.  If you are not adverse to elbow grease, click here for cleaning instructions.  If you would prefer a no-scrub method, we highly recommend Paint N Peel, a product specifically designed for professional chimney sweeps to use to clean inside and around the fireplace. Paint on a thick layer of Paint N Peel, let it dry thoroughly (usually 24 hours, depending on the humidity), and then just peel it off.  As you peel it away from the fireplace, the soot and stains are lifted from off the surface and from inside cracks.

Spruce up a fireplace by cleaning the firebox with Paint N Peel.

Before and After photos courtesy ChimneySaver, the manufacturer of Paint N Peel.

3.    Shine the slate hearth.

Sweep the area right in front of the hearth.  If you have a slate hearth, wash and dry it and then wipe it down with lemon oil for a pristine shine. See directions for cleaning a slate hearth here.

4.    Create order on the hearth.Spruce up a fireplace for Christmas with a log rack with places for newspaper and kindling.

Everything from fireplace gloves and matches to newspapers, kindling and logs can end up dominating the hearth and detracting from the beauty of your fireplace. Log holders with storage shelves control that clutter.

Containing all the fire-making supplies in one tidy accessory is a great way to spruce up a fireplace for Christmas or any other time of the year.

5.    Remove clutter from the mantel.

Before you decorate the mantel for Christmas, get rid of any clutter that might have accumulated there.  You know: the things that ended up on the fireplace mantel simply because they were in your hand and the mantel was the nearest surface.

 6.   Fill the fireplace with fire.

Now build a welcoming fire in your fireplace.  Nothing says “welcome” to holidays guests like an inviting fire in the fireplace. Read fire-building tips here.

If, however, you don’t burn firewood in your fireplace, insert a fireplace candelabra with candles into the firebox. When the candles are lit, you get all the hospitality of a fireplace fire, but with candle light instead of firelight.

Whether you are awaiting Santa or other holiday guests, a clean, orderly fireplace and hearth is an instant face-lift for the whole room.  In addition, both Mr. and Mrs. Claus appreciate your ash-free and soot-free fireplace.

Posted in Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance, Holidays Tagged with: ,
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