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Apartment Fireplaces

Safely using your old or new fireplace in your Pittsburgh apartment.

Pittsburgh has a huge selection of older homes transformed into apartment dwellings. Grand Victorians, two-story American Foursquares and row houses dominate many of the city and suburban neighborhoods, where single-family homes now meet multi-unit rentals. Many of the charming buildings still include beautiful, working wood-burning fireplaces, while others may have been upgraded to a gas or electric fireplace.

While electrical units are ideal for apartment tenants, some landlords are willing to allow renters to continue to use an existing wood-burning or gas fireplace, when practicing good fire-safety. The fireplace experts at Ed’s Woodshed are providing some safety tips for using your Pittsburgh apartment fireplace.

1.     Don’t assume anything. Talk to your landlord before using your fireplace.

While it’s highly unlikely your landlord would skip over a conversation regarding a working (or non-working) fireplace, always have the conversation before burning wood, turning on the gas or plugging in an electrical unit. They may be waiting on a new fireplace installation or a chimney sweep. They may ask you don’t burn past a certain time. He or she may note the electrical unit needs serviced by an electrician. Follow all rules established by your landlord and always read over your lease in its entirety.

2.     Ensure chimney inspections are up-do-date. This goes hand in hand with the previous tip. If your landlord gives you the OK to use the fireplace and chimney, feel free ask to view any supporting documents stating the chimney passed inspection. Annual chimney inspections are mandatory for apartment buildings with working fireplaces. If your landlord is law-abiding, they’ll have documentation available. Does your apartment need a chimney inspection? Think your apartment fireplace could use an upgrade with a new Pittsburgh fireplace or insert? Have your landlord call Ed’s Woodshed!

3.     Get educated. Don’t start a fire in your apartment fireplace until you’ve been educated on how to use it properly. Talk to your landlord about opening/closing the flue and any suggestions on the type of wood to use or where to buy it. If you have a gas-operated fireplace, do you light the pilot with a match, does is operate via a wall-switch or do you simply use a remote. In that case, what happens if the remote’s batteries die while it’s burning? Take your time getting all the details you need before using your fireplace.

4.     Interior decorating. We know its fun to decorate a new apartment, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a beautiful hearth. As tempting as it may seem, be choosy on how you decorate your fireplace, especially around the holidays. Don’t let anything drape or hang over the mantel. Keep things off the floor near the fireplace opening. Close all glass surrounds and screens. And, consider any area rugs you may place near the hearth as a simple spark from an ash can create devastating possibilities.

5.     Don’t burn trash. Walking your trash out to the dumpster may seem cumbersome, but don’t be tempted to toss anything into your fireplace – especially plastic or Styrofoam – as these omit toxic chemicals when burned. Not to mention, burning food related items like chicken bones may attract rodents and pests. Yuck!

6.     Watch your children and pets. If you are a parent or pet owner, always be sure you’re keeping a close watch over your children and pets when having a fire. It’s also never too early to practice fire-safety with your kids. This include locating the fire exits, teaching them to never to play with lighters or matches and calling 911.

Isn’t it great your apartment came equipped with a fireplace? It sure is! But, with this great fireplace comes great responsibility. Always be sure to practice fire safety in your home or apartment.

Are you a property owner in the Pittsburgh area? We install new fireplaces in Pittsburgh and complete fireplace inspections year-round. Call or visit Ed’s Woodshed, today!


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