Safety begins even before you install your fireplace. There are a number of different styles and types fireplaces on the market, some are not considered as safe as others. As an example, ventless or vent free gas fireplaces are not approved in Canada, and have limited approval in the United States.
Where and how you install your fireplace could also be a safety issue if not done correctly. Installation of the firebox and or vent system to close to the wood studs or other combustible materials could pose a fire hazard.
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Here is short list of safety issues you should be aware of. Before you operate your fireplace for the first time, have it inspected and carefully read the owners manual. Clean away any dust or debris that may have accumulated during construction i.e. wood chips or drywall dust may harm the motor, burners or the fan.
Make sure your fire detector is operating properly and also consider installing a carbon monoxide detector near your fireplace. Wait 5 minutes before attempting to light the pilot light if it goes out, this helps to ensure any gas that may be in the air will have dissipated.
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Keep children from getting to close to the fireplace when it is being used, skin or clothing can easily burn if pressed against the glass face. Before cleaning or wiping down the fireplace ensure that it has completely cooled off. Also make a point of regularly checking the outside area around the vent to make sure there is no build up of debris.
If you suspect anything is wrong with the way your fireplace is operating it is best to act quickly and contact the gas company or your fireplace supplier and have it looked at immediately. Things to be aware of include; any unusual odors, or if the flames appear to jumping or sputtering in an unusual manner.
Any maintenance on either the venting system or firebox should be done by a qualified professional. I recommend you keep a detailed record of all inspections and service work that is done on your fireplace, it may also be a good idea to keep all receipts, warranty and all related paperwork in one folder for ease of reference.