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Mantel Clearance to Combustible Materials

This may be news to some folks, but for the most part, everyone knows that wood can catch fire! But for some reason, folks sometimes forget this minor detail when installing a wooden fireplace mantel! Maybe they think that if they spent a lot of time or money on it, or if it’s real pretty, that it won’t catch on fire…. But the fact remains, wood is a combustible material, and if it’s placed too close to your fireplace opening, you may be dealing with two fires at once…the one in your fireplace, and the one on your fireplace mantel!  And if you don’t act quickly, it becomes the fire that’s swiftly burning down your house!

Wooden Fireplace Mantels:

This fireplace's lintel is actually a combustible wood header! Talk about playing with fire!

This fireplace’s lintel is actually a combustible wood header! Talk about playing with fire!

While beautiful, this custom woodwork is installed way too close to the fireplace opening.

While beautiful, this custom woodwork is installed way too close to the fireplace opening.

National Fire Protection Agency Building Codes have clearly-defined distances that must be maintained when installing a fireplace mantel that is made of combustible materials. (Cement, stone, and brick fireplace mantels are not combustible, and therefore aren’t under the same restrictions)

 

Fireplace clearance to combustible material.

Fireplace clearance to combustible material.

Combustible materials (such as the legs on a wooden fireplace mantel) shall not be installed closer than six inches from either side of the fireplace opening.

If Combustible materials (your wooden mantel) stick out more than 1 ½ inches from the fireplace facing, it can’t be installed any closer than 12” above the fireplace opening.

AtoZChimneySweep-SacramentoCA-FireplaceMantelOverlap

This creative woodworker decided that coming up to the very edge of the fireplace wasn’t risky enough, so he actually made it OVERLAP the fireplace opening!

If your wooden mantel doesn’t stick out very far from the fireplace facing at all (1 ½ inches or less), it may be installed no closer than six inches from the fireplace opening.

Regardless of combustible material thickness, nothing combustible can be installed less than six inches from the top or sides of the fireplace opening.

Although absolutely beautiful, never forget that wood is a combustible material and has a nasty habit of catching fire when it gets too hot… so remember woodworkers and do-it-yourselfers, if you’re going to install a wooden mantel around your fireplace opening, keep your distance so you can keep your cool!

If your fireplace has combustible materials that are installed too close to your fireplace opening, DO NOT CONTINUE TO HAVE FIRES until these materials have been removed! It can be heartbreaking to have to remove a fireplace mantel, but you’ll feel a lot worse if your home catches fire.

If you're going to install a wooden mantel around your fireplace opening, keep your distance so you can keep your cool!

If you’re going to install a wooden mantel around your fireplace opening, keep your distance so you can keep your cool!

 

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