At Zip, we take fire safety very seriously, and are often asked for advice on a number of ranging topics such as whether a chimney needs sweeping or how a fireguard should be used. To make it easier, we have collated our most frequently asked questions.
Q. How often should I have my chimney swept?
A. Frequency of sweeping can depend on a number of factors, we recommend the following:
Many insurance companies now insist on proof of sweeping by a certified chimney sweep and it is also worth checking the details of your insurance policy to ensure you will be covered in the event of a claim.
Q. How can I prevent build up of creosote and tars in my chimney?
A. To help ensure that your chimney remains clean of all residues, use only dry wood and have your chimney swept on a regular basis. Using wet or damp wood or turf can lead to a build-up of creosote and tar, which needs to be removed as this kind of residue can cause chimney fires.
Q. Where should I store my fire starters and fuel?
A. Fire starters should be kept away from fire in a cool and dry place. Many fire makers store them next to the fire on the hearth for convenience but, this is a fire risk. We advise to keep your fire starters in a metal tin preferably in an outdoor shed, far away from children, pets and animals.
Wood, coal and peat should be stored in a dry place with good ventilation so that any dampness can quickly be evaporated to leave dry fuel. The wetter the fuel the harder it will be to light.
Q. What fuel is suitable for my stove?
A. Always be guided by your manufacturer’s recommendations.
Q. Do I need a good air supply?
A. For open fires the chimney should provide enough air to help ’draw the fire’. However, for closed appliances like wood burners and stoves, there needs to be an an adequate flow of air, to allow them to burn correctly. Ensure that your rooms with fires are well ventilated with fresh air. Sometimes a little draft from outside increases the performance of a fire and sometimes the wind direction moving over the chimney pot can aid air flow. However, fires are generally worse performing on windy days when the wind tends to blow down the chimney.
If you have double glazing or draft proofing, you might want to consider fitting an air duct to allow fresh air to enter your room.
Q. What precautions should I take to ensure that my fire does not produce harmful gasses?
A. To prevent harmful gasses being produced by your fire, enough oxygen must be supplied to burn your fuels completely. To do this:
Q. How often do I need to remove the ash from my fire?
A. A build-up of ash may damage your appliance, so it is important that you remove any ash before each new fire. Allow the ash to cool before cleaning out (ideally overnight). If the ash is from wood logs then it would be possible to use it in your garden as a form of fertilizer. It contains 13 essential nutrients for good plant growth. It also helps to maintain a neutral soil condition.
Q. When should I use a fireguard?
A. Zip recommends using a fireguard with any open fire. Never leave an open fire unattended without placing a fireguard in front of the fire. Make sure that the fireguard is fireproof and not made of any flammable materials such as plastic or fabric.
Always place a fire guard over any appliance where indoor pets and small children are able to touch or put their hands near. Log burning stoves heat up to high temperatures and the glass also becomes extremely hot and can cause serious burning and blistering.
If you have any of your own top tips for indoor fire safety then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.
The fireplace is the heart of a home, providing warmth and comfort to you and your family. To get the most out of your fireplace, use these tools of the trade to make life easier, so you can spend more time enjoying the warmth rather than poking the fire!
If there is one thing that you must have when lighting indoor fires of any kind, it is a fire screen. It is a close weave metal stand that sits in front of the fire to prevent sparks from your fire from landing on your rug and potentially causing a fire. It also protects small children and family pets from getting too close to the hot fire or stove.
This is also known as a stoker or fire iron. This is a short, ridged rod with an insulated handle used to move coals and wood in a lit fireplace. Sometimes these pokers have a hook on one side to help roll logs on the grate. This can be a very useful tool in large fireplaces.
Well known to gardeners, a shovel is also a multi-purpose tool for tending fireplaces or stoves. Used similarly to a fireplace poker, it allows you to handle burning embers and logs. It is great for scooping up any excess ash from the hearth once the fire has died down. A flat shovel is best to get the most ash out per sweep, and it can reach to the back corners of the grate or ash pan.
Tongs, along with the shovel and fireplace poker, are used to handle the hot logs in the fireplace. Their advantage is their gripping capability, which allows you to pick up materials from the fireplace. They are often used to put wood from the stack into the fire, as they keep your hands from getting black and dirty.
The fireplace broom does exactly what it sounds like. It cleans up the ash left in the bottom of the grate once the fire has burned out.
These are used to deliver a controlled amount of pressurized air to a specific part of the fireplace to provide extra oxygen to the flames. Bellows are usually powered by hand-pumping air through a semi-enclosed chamber and out through a nozzle. These can be especially handy as an alternative to blowing flames to the hard-to-reach places of your fireplace grate. No more huffing and puffing!
These are often decorative pieces, also known as an andiron. They consist of two horizontal bars that support the logs placed in the hearth and allow air to pass through them. They help the fire burn and prevent smoke buildup.
This is a small metal bucket with a handle. There are several different varieties available but they all do essentially the same thing. They are used to dispose of hot cinders (you can recycle your ash and use as fertilizer for the garden, it works especially well when placed around the base of rose bushes).
If you know of any other 'tools of the trade' then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.
Owning a home with fireplaces and chimineys can have its challenges. This is especially true when birds or other animals take up residence. There are no manuals on what you should do, and each situation is different. We hope this guide will help you choose the right solution when birds (or other animals) get stuck in your chimney.
Your first instinct may be to light a fire and smoke the animal out of your chimney, but this is cruel and could kill the animal, leaving you with a blocked chimney flu and the smell of a decomposing animal. There are a number of alternatives you can try to get the animal out.
Your chimney is warm, dry, and – in the bird's (or other animal's) mind – safe, making it the ideal place to build a nest. But your uninvited guest doesn't know that your chimney is not a hotel! One proven technique is to play loud music into the chimney flue and leave a bright light shining up your chimney for a couple of days. Hopefully, the animal will pack up and leave on its own.
It is hard for a bird that has fallen down your flue to turn around and fly out in such a confined space. The bird will become distressed and flustered quickly. If possible, it is best to coax them all the way to the bottom of the chimney into the hearth and then shoo them out through a window or door. If that doesn't work, put them in a box and either release them back into the wild, or if the animal is injured, take it to your local animal rescue shelter.
Your local chimney cleaner or wildlife expert is always a smart option. They are used to dealing with trapped animals, especially during nesting season. These experts have the right equipment to help get birds out of your chimney with the least amount of stress for everyone.
Once you have managed to get the bird or animal out of your chimney, consider putting a cap on your chimney or chimney pot. This should stop birds and animals from getting in. Your local chimney cleaner or roofing contractor will be able to recommend the best type for your home.
If you have any top tips to keep your chimney clear then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.
Potato peels and acorns help prevent creosote buildup in your chimney. Save your potato skins and collect acorns in the autumn. Just a handful thrown on top of a burning fire can help keep your chimney in good shape.
Use ash from the fire to clean your fireplace. To clean a stove or a closed fireplace glass door, simply dampen some newspaper and dip into some cold wood ashes. Rub gently until all the creosote comes off. Repeat if necessary until the glass is clean. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.
Distilled white vinegar is an effective, inexpensive and non-toxic way of cleaning your hearthstone fireplace. Just pour the vinegar directly from the bottle or use a spray bottle to get into crevices. Allow the vinegar to sit for a few minutes, then scrub with an old toothbrush. Wipe clean with a damp cloth. It will be gleaming in no time.
Add coffee grounds to the ash in your fireplace to help keep dirt from billowing up when cleaning. Don’t forget to place newspaper or protective sheeting when cleaning out the hearth to keep from marking or staining flooring.
If you have brick or stone in your fireplace that has soot stuck on it, you can clean it up with minimal effort using salt! Carefully throw a few tablespoons of salt into a roaring fire and watch as the soot stains on your brick or stone fireplace go up in smoke. The salt helps loosen the soot as it burns. The soot will be drawn up the chimney with all the rest of the smoke.
If you have any of your own top tips for a cleaner fireplace then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.
1. Fire is an event, not a thing. Heating wood or other fuel releases volatile vapours that can rapidly combust with oxygen in the air; the resulting incandescent bloom of gas further heats the fuel, releasing more vapours and perpetuating the cycle.
2. Earth is the only known planet where fire can burn as there is not enough oxygen anywhere else.
3. Oxygen supply influences the colour of the flame. A low-oxygen fire contains lots of un-combusted fuel particles and will give off a yellow glow. A high-oxygen fire burns blue.
4. Candle flames are blue at the bottom because that’s where they take up fresh air, and yellow at the top because the rising fumes from below partly suffocate the upper part of the flame.
5. Conversely, the more oxygen, the hotter the fire. Air is 21 percent oxygen; combine pure oxygen with acetylene, a chemical relative of methane, and you get an oxyacetylene welding torch that burns at over 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit—the hottest fire you are likely to encounter.
6. The 1666 Great Fire of London destroyed 80 percent of the city but also ended an outbreak of bubonic plague that had killed more than 65,000 people the previous year. The fire fried the rats and fleas that carried Yersinia pestis, the plague-causing bacterium.
If you have any of your own fun facts about fires then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.
Please ensure you read the safety warnings which are included on the packaging of all Zip products before using.
If you have any of your own top tips for Freddie's indoor safety tips then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.
It is always better to put two or three logs on your fire at a time. Not only will this create warmth and ambiance, there is a little science behind it too.
A single log in a fireplace grate is more likely to die out. This is because wood fibers burn in stages and so a single log can't keep the burning process going by itself. More logs create a bigger combined burning surface, which in turn creates air and flame turbulence, keeping the burning process going.
This is why at the end of the evening that last log in the fireplace just sits there, charred and lonely.
If you have any of your own top tips for one lonely log then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.
We're not just passionate about lighting fires, we also really want to share our passion and expertise of all things fire! Here we have put together some advice on which woods will make your fire hot and toasty and which woods will – as the saying goes – "leave you cold".
Why use wood?
Wood is a natural and sustainable choice of fuel for domestic fires and has been used since the beginning of fire making, many millennia ago. When we warm our homes with wood, we participate in a natural cycle that we share with our ancient ancestors. Wood fueled the open fires of the hunter-gatherers, the brick ovens of the first bakers, and, until the 19th century, all of our homes.
Today, we still love to sit in front of a fire and coming in from the cold instinctively draws us towards it. We all know that familiar feeling of returning home after a busy day out to a cold, chilly house and desperately wanting a roaring fire to warm you up fast!
Whether it is gazing into the magical flames or unwinding with a glass of your favorite wine, ZIP™ firestarters and the right wood will help you achieve a speedy, toasty house leaving you more time to relax and enjoy your well-earned rest at the end of a busy day.
Aspen, basswood, cottonwood, chestnut, yellow poplar and spruce produce relative low amounts of heat and whilst easy to burn also pop, throw out sparks and produce a fair amount of smoke. They are most suitable for use as kindling.
If you have any of your own top tips for choosing the right wood then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.
Heat detectors are designed to warn of a fire in your home. They do NOT replace smoke detectors, which should be fitted in bedrooms, hallways etc. to give you extra time to evacuate the building or put out the fire. Heat detectors should be situated in kitchens and utility rooms and even garages, where heat sources are regularly positioned eg boilers, cookers.
So what are the different types of detectors? There are two main types:
For the the safety of you and your family, it is advisable to fit a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm in your home. Just like a smoke alarm which alerts you to the presence of smoke, a carbon monoxide detector will alert you to the presence of CO.The difference with CO is that it is invisible and has no smell or taste, so you might not realise it is there.
It is recommended that you have a carbon monoxide alarm in every room which has a gas appliance. Always follow the alarm manufacturer’s instructions on siting, testing and replacing the alarm. Please note: It is important to choose an alarm that will wake you up if you’re asleep, or you may not be aware of early CO symptoms until it is too late.
Experts advise having a combination of the two Heat Detectors that will ultimately respond when the fixed temperature element reaches its point of change. Do not forget to install and maintain household smoke alarms and check that the batteries are working on a regular basis.
While you are in the mode for protecting your home from fires and smoke why not also install a Carbon Monoxide detector to ensure that your gas fired boiler is working correctly and not emitting harmful toxic fumes? Better to be safe than sorry.
If you have any of your own top tips for heat detectors then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.
Fresh, green logs are actually 50% water and therefore will not burn well. If you do burn green logs, your fire will splutter producing a lot of unwanted smoke! To avoid this, make sure you use fully dried out logs firewood. If you are drying your own logs please remember this will take time, approximately 1 whole Summer in fact! (If you don’t have this time to spare, never fear there are lots of great wood suppliers around with the perfect logs to purchase).
It’s really important to keep your stove clean. Ideally you should remove soot from the stove and flue pipe once a year. Even a few millimeters of soot can really affect heat conduction.
Do not leave your stove door open unless you have been specifically instructed to by the manufacturer when lighting the fire. You are reducing the stoves efficiency and allowing all of the warm air to escape straight up the chimney.
Make sure you use 2 or 3 logs at one time. One log will most likely just die out, the reason for this is because the burning of the log happens in three stages and a single log is not able to keep its own process going. The more logs you have the longer your fire will burn for.
If you have any of your own top tips for wood burning stoves then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.
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