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Home » Customer Service » Chimney Repairs & Installations » Masonry Chimney Repairs » Mantel Clearance to Combustibles

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:

Fireplace Lintel Image - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

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

Custom Fireplace Woodwork Image - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

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 Diagram - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

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.

Fireplace Woodwork Installation - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

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.

Installation of Wooden Chimney Mantel - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

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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Several years ago I had one of the biggest chimney sweep companies in town come out to clean my chimney and it was a DISASTER! By the time they finished, my carpets and furniture were covered in dirty, grimy soot, and it was a nightmare to have cleaned!

Because of my past experience with that other company, I was understandably cautious about having another chimney sweep into my home, but I decided to give A to Z since they came highly referred. Needless to say, I was not disappointed! A to Z was on time and very careful to cover my white carpets with fresh, clean tarps not only in front of my fireplace, but everywhere they walked, too!

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