Indeed chimney and fireplace safety is all about numbers, and we want to share some of the more significant ones with you.
3 feet outdoors: This is the minimum required distance between your rooftop and chimney opening. Anything closer is not up to code and a potential risk to your safety. There are some cases when even more clearance is required, and your local CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep can provide information on those cases.
3 feet indoors: Homeowners are typically at the mercy of contractors and construction professionals for many of the numbers we’re discussing here, but this is one that every homeowner does have control over. Three feet is the absolute minimum distance you should keep between combustibles and your fireplace opening. Whether it’s stockings during the holidays or a piece of furniture that’s in place all year long, keep all items clear of your fireplace opening to improve your safety.
16 inches: This is how far your hearth, or the flooring of your fireplace, should extend into your living area if your fireplace opening is less than 6 square feet. This distance protects against hot embers or other objects from the fireplace coming into contact with carpet or other flammable materials in your living space.
8 inches: This is how far your hearth should extend out from each side of your fireplace opening when the opening is less than 6 square feet.
2 feet: A decorative mantle is a wonderful accent to the beauty of a fireplace and fire, but any mantle that projects more than one and a half inches from the wall needs to be installed at least two feet above the fireplace opening in order to reduce the risk of fire.
When you add it all up, knowledge is power. We hope you’ve increased your knowledge of the numbers that help reduce chimney risks and are empowered to make the changes necessary for a safer home.