If there’s one movie scene that has been romanticized over the years, it’s having a person fall asleep in front of a crackling fire as snow falls outside. It’s so cozy, right?
However, there’s a line between fantasy and reality. Fire safety is a concern, even if the fireplace in question is powered by gas. Wondering if it’s actually safe to leave a gas fireplace on overnight? You’re not alone!
On a technical level, gas fireplaces can keep going for days without needing a break. However, when it comes to matters of safety, leaving a gas fireplace on overnight isn’t a wise idea. Due to fire and carbon monoxide hazards, leaving your fireplace on overnight should only be done if you have smoke and CO alarms installed throughout your home.
Though most of us love the idea of keeping things cozy with a fireplace that burns continually, the truth is that choosing to keep a fireplace lit for very long periods of time just isn’t bright. This article will explain why, and how to reduce your risk if you decide to do it anyway.
Is It Okay To Leave A Fireplace On Overnight?
The biggest rule of thumb when it comes to fire safety is that you should never leave a fire unattended. When you’re leaving a fire unattended, you don’t know whether or not it’s close to burning something or if the smoke is getting out of control. By leaving a fireplace lit while you’re sleeping, you are basically leaving the fire unattended.
However, this rule doesn’t always apply when it comes to fireplaces. Since fireplaces have been engineered to be safer than they once were, it’s possible to leave them on overnight as long as the fireplace in question has proper ventilation. Even so, the best practice is to always turn your fireplace off when you decide to hit the hay.
But, Is It Okay To Leave A Gas Fireplace On Overnight?
With gas fireplaces, there is a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless gas and can easily lead to death by inhalation.
The longer your fireplace burns, the more likely it is that you have high levels of carbon monoxide in your home. This is why ventilation is so important; it gives carbon monoxide a way to leave your house and boosts your fresh air levels.
Carbon monoxide aside, it’s still not a good idea to leave a fireplace on overnight. This is true regardless of whether you have a vented fireplace, a gas insert fireplace, or a vent-free fireplace. Heck, if you have a vent-free fireplace, you shouldn’t even leave it lit for more than three hours at a time!
How To Use A Gas Fireplace Safely
A fireplace can easily turn into a fire hazard if you don’t use it correctly. If you do decide to leave your fireplace on overnight, it’s better to do the wrong thing the right way. Minimizing your fire (and carbon monoxide) risks is the end goal here.
Before you even light your fireplace once, make sure that you know (and use) these safety tips below:
1. Always make sure that your fireplace is well-maintained, cleaned, and functional.
A fireplace that’s broken, neglected, or just plain unclean isn’t a good fireplace to use. Poorly maintained fireplaces are a leading cause of fires in the home. If you notice issues with your fireplace, call a repairman before you use it again.
2. Keep any glass doors closed and sealed when the fireplace is running.
If your fireplace has a glass case, make sure that it’s tightly sealed. This can help prevent errant sparks from causing fires nearby and also helps direct the flow of carbon monoxide up to the chimney.
3. Keep pets and children away from the glass casing.
Though they may look cool to the touch, most glass casings get fairly hot when a fire is started up. Touching it while a fire is lit can cause burns.
4. Install (and test) a fire detector and a carbon monoxide alarm prior to using your fireplace.
These alarms should be installed in the same room as the fireplace. You should never have a home that doesn’t have these safety tools installed in at least one room. A functional alarm system can save your life, which is why most towns have them as a mandated part of building codes.
5. Have a fire extinguisher near your fireplace.
When you’re dealing with any type of open flame, having a fire extinguisher handy is a must. We suggest keeping on in the kitchen and one in the room with the fireplace in it.
Fireplace Maintenance Tips
Along with following the right rules for maintaining your gas fireplace, it’s also important to keep your fireplace maintained.
These tips below will ensure that your fireplace remains safe for use for years to come:
1. Wait until your fireplace is completely cold to clean it.
Trying to clean it while it’s hot can cause burns to your hands, and may even cause glass to crack.
2. Clean your fireplace, as well as the log inserts.
Believe it or not, the logs have to be cleaned in order to reduce the chance of a fire hazard or a gas line blockage.
3. Make sure that your fireplace flue is open and that you have ample ventilation.
This is the only way to ensure that you don’t get carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of your fireplace running. Never use a fireplace that has a blocked flue!
4. Maintain a clutter-free, fabric-free zone around your fireplace.
Keeping clutter away from your fireplace reduces the chance of having sparks catching a fire, and also looks nicer.
5. Have your chimney inspected every two years.
The quality of your chimney is going to make a difference in how safe your fireplace is. By having it inspected and cleaned every two years, you ensure that you will keep your flue open and capable of ventilation.
6. Try to keep your roof clear of leaves and twigs.
While an occasional leaf falling down your chimney shouldn’t be an issue, it still can cause fire hazards.
How long can I leave a gas fireplace on?
Assuming that you have a vented fireplace, you can leave it on continuously as long as someone is keeping an eye on it. However, if you have a vent-free fireplace, you should never leave it on for more than three hours due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Are gas fireplaces worth the money?
Aside from being very pretty, gas fireplaces are highly efficient when it comes to the heat they give off. As much as 99 percent of the fuel you pay for can get converted to heat with a gas fireplace. Moreover, fireplaces are known for adding value to a home’s overall sale price. So yes, they’re worth it.
Are fireplaces bad for your health?
Fireplaces don’t have to be bad for your health, but they can be a hazard. The soot and smoke from a wood fireplace can irritate lungs and also cause cancer in large doses.
To prevent fireplaces from causing health problems, make sure that you are using a well-ventilated chimney system. Your lungs will thank you for it.