Use the fireplace, or not?

Our guest living room has a fireplace that hasn’t been used in a couple of years. We’ve only been doing Airbnb since very late February and I simply put decorative rocks in the fireplace at the outset–dressed it up to look pretty, but non-functional. We also didn’t list it as an amenity in our listings.

Since fall and winter are heading our way rapidly and this is a big ski area (Utah), I’ve been debating whether to have the chimney cleaned and get a cord of wood so guests have have a nice fire in the fireplace. Then I imagine my house burning to the ground with my pets and kids inside because some idiot doesn’t know how to properly handle a fireplace and change my mind. Then I think of how nice it would be. Then I think of the mess it would make.

In short, I am undecided, but mainly concerned about potential safety issues. Does anyone else have a fireplace in their rental and what do you do to minimize hazards?

My insurance won’t cover an open fire…

Aren’t the marble fireplaces lovely- yes they are…such a pity they don’t t function :smile:

I have three fireplaces in my house and would never consider letting random strangers use them. Knowing how to burn in a wood burning fireplace is actually knowledge-based. People would burn paper, garbage, logs that are not dried properly, too much wood. They would not know how to spread the host coals when they went to bed. Heck, they might even use the fireplace without the screen, burning your floors with popping cinders.

I can imagine enjoying a fire in Utah, but I don’t think that the risk is worth it. What about a fire pit or chiminea [or whatever they are called] outside and you only provide a tiny wood “starter bundle” and directions to where they can buy more? Wood has gotten very expensive.

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My cottage has a wood burning stove insert into the fireplace and it is one of the biggest draws of the cottage in the winter. In fact, good luck being a successful rental in the Catskills in the winter without a fireplace or wood burning stove.

I did have to supply to my insurance agent proof of a certified chimney sweep installation of the insert, but I lucked out with my underwriter. They had been insuring vacation home rentals in the Adirondacks for decades before the peer-to-peer online industry came into being.

You might look into a gas/propane insert? It’s been a while since I shopped, but I believe there are models that run off of a tank if you don’t have gas in-unit, and then there’s no skill involved - just flipping a switch and “oooh! Fire!”


Been there, done that! There are burn marks from the popping cinders. Then we had guests using the fake logs and it built up residue and started a chimney fire - yikes! (lesson learned)

So we switched to a propane fireplace and it’s so much easier. There is even a heat pump so the living room (and house) stays toasty in the winter without having to worry about whether or not someone knows about open fires.

Now all we have to contend with is keeping those 100 lb tanks filled (I wish natural gas were available!).


@CanadianHost if I were to ever have a second Catskills rental I would definitely consider propane fueled fireplace insert. But there is a hardcore hipster element to my rental base that likes the real thing, and of course, I love the real thing. However, I have a outdoor mid-century fireplace on the deck of the travel trailer guest house and I am considering converting that to propane somehow.

Also, I do offer composite logs to my guests, but I ask that they only use I think to start the fire only. I have a porch full of stacked firewood. And I have my chimney cleaned frequently.

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Yeah, “there’s nothing like the real thing, baby”:musical_note::notes:

Our family home (not the rental) has wood burning fireplaces. I do love the real flames. They can no longer be put in new homes, but if your house already has a wood-burning fireplace you can continue to use it.

Do you have carpets where the fireplace is?

What do you mean they can no longer be put into new homes? Open hearth fireplaces are not allowed in new homes? In Canada?

That is the trend. Wood burning fireplaces are polluters, and are being restricted in all kinds of places.

Yup! At least in Vancouver. They are being phased out.

What about wood burning stoves?

Yipes! Sorry, I didn’t see your question until now. I believe wood burning stoves are not banned at the moment, but because they add to polution and temperature inversions it is being monitored and I’m sure changes will come - at least to comply with stricter standards.

I see this issue has been addressed so I’ll add to it:

My last couple of guests have inquired about using my fireplace and I’ve declined citing the fact that I had a bird nesting in the chimney this past summer and haven’t had the sweep out yet. Just the same I’m inclined to not allow it. I only one month a year that I’m open where it is actually cool enough to want a fire and I’m a bit of a pyrophobic so even if I wasn’t concerned about the bird nest I’d probably still stay no. So much mess and potential for damage IMO.

If I were in a mountain location or open during the winter I’d reconsider. I feel a little bad for my current guests, they were excited to see the fireplace and eagerly inquired about using it (temps here right now are low 30s at night and mid 60s during the day).