Why should you always leave your fireplace doors open when burning a fire?
Fireplace doors should be left open because the high temperatures from the flames can cause the glass panels to shatter and even explode. Kelly Ripa and her husband, actor Mark Consuelos, learned this lesson the hard way. Watch Kelly tell the story of her exploding fireplaces doors below:
Kelly posted a picture on Instagram and tells her story describing how she and Mark were were relaxing in front of their fireplace in their New York City townhouse. All of a sudden, they heard what sounded like an explosion as shattered glass came flying out into their living room. The glass in the fireplace doors had overheated as the fire burned and broken apart into tiny pieces.
Sal Finocchiaro, owner of NYC Fireplaces in Queens, says that glass fireplace doors should always be open when the fire is burning. Fireplace glass doors are installed mainly for looks and to stop drafts from coming down the chimney into the home. Some people think the glass used in fireplace doors can withstand any high temperature a fire can dish out, but that’s simply not true. Fireplace doors can’t withstand extremely high temperatures, especially when a roaring fire gets too close to the glass.
To add to the confusion on whether or not fireplace doors should be closed during a fire, many fireplace door manufacturers post pictures on their websites showing their selection of fireplace doors, each one with a beautiful fire (usually photoshopped) burning behind closed glass. While aesthetically appealing, these images can confuse homeowners who are left wondering if it’s OK to close their doors while a fire is burning.
Luckily, for homeowners like Kelly and Mark, all fireplace doors are made from tempered glass. Larry Stevens, owner of M&M Tempering in Georgia, says tempered glass is stronger and safer than regular glass. If it does break, tempered glass fractures into small relatively harmless fragments. Since there are no jagged edges or sharp shards, the chance of injury is greatly decreased. Tempered glass can withstand up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit of constant heat. A typical fireplace reaches anywhere from 500 to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit with a burning fire.
Kelly describes her experience in her own hilarious way on “Live with Kelly and Ryan” declaring that it’s a miracle no one was hurt. Kelly says that Mark was sitting on the couch as she laid curled up on the floor close to the fireplace trying to keep warm. She turned away from the fireplace for a moment when all of a sudden the glass fireplace doors exploded and glass shot out into the room. Both Kelly and Mark screamed as they tried to figure out what to do and ran around the room in panic mode. Finally, Mark grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the fire while their teenage sons in the other room continued eating their sushi dinner unfazed by all the commotion.
The worst part of the experience, according to Kelly? Not that her doors were broken. Or the carpet caught on fire. Or that glass went flying all over the room. But that her beloved Madonna concert t-shirt got five burn holes in it!
So what can we learn from Kelly? First of all, always keep your fireplace doors open while the fire is burning. When the flames die down and there are just embers left, the doors can be closed to keep an errant spark from popping out onto your floor.
And secondly, just to be on the safe side, never ever wear your favorite concert t-shirt if you’re planning to sit by a fire.