Keep Up With Your Fireplace Maintenance

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There is nothing better than curling up near a roaring fire when the nights get cooler, the leaves fall from the trees, and the air becomes crisp. The warmth of a fireplace can draw family members together during the cold weather months. It can become an intimate place to share with friends, but a fireplace requires maintenance and care to work optimally and safely.


There are many different types of fireplaces (electricgas and wood burning) with wood burning still being the most popular. From the scent of the burning wood’s aroma to the crackling sounds it provides, this type of fireplace is still cherished by many homeowners. However, there are several things that you should do before setting the first log on the fire and starting a blaze.

Here are a few fireplace maintenance tips that can help you enjoy the upcoming cold season and keep everyone in the house safe and warm.

  • One of the first things you want to do if you have recently purchased a home, or already own a home, is to have the fireplace and chimney inspected by a certified home inspector for any cracks. Some homeowners may not be aware of the exposures associated with fireplaces and chimneys until it’s too late and becomes a very costly repair. The inspector will check for any obvious breakage, but they will also check for any creosote buildup inside the chimney. When wood doesn’t burn completely, it produces creosote, a soot and tarry smoke produced by the portion of chemical products obtained by the distillation of the tar that remains heavier than water. Whenever possible, burn hardwoods like maple, oak, ash, and birch because they burn hot and long, have less pitch and sap, and tend to cause less creosote buildup.
  • Depending on your inspection report, have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the chimney. A rule of thumb for up-keep of your fireplace is to have the chimney checked at least once a year or after about 80 fires.
  • Next, another essential maintenance feature is to use a chimney cap to prevent water damage, to keep animals from nesting and keep debris from blocking the chimney which can cause carbon monoxide to flow back into the house. Also, it’s advisable to use a spark arrester to help prevent sparks from flying out, which could start a fire on the roof or lawn.
  • Regularly clean the area where the logs burn at least once a week during the months you use it and when ash is building up. A smart tip is to leave about an inch of ash because it acts as insulation, allowing the coals to heat faster and retain the heat easier. When not in use, keep the firebox completely clean during the off seasons.
  • To improve your wood burning fireplace’s efficiency, consider installing heat-proof glass doors to protect against heat loss and a fan or blower to direct the heat into the room. Doors are also a safety feature since they can keep live embers from escaping the fireplace into the interior of the home. With glass doors, your fireplace may develop tough stains from flames and heat. To maintain the glass properly, you should scrape off any thick gunk deposits with a razor blade. Use a squirt of dishwashing detergent and warm water to a gallon of water. Use newspaper to clean up because it is lint-free. There is also the option of buying a special glass cleaner from a fireplace store.

Be Warm, Be Safe

There can be many advantages to a wood burning fireplace, including saving money on heating costs and supplementing your primary source of heat. At the same time, the maintenance and service of your fireplace is of utmost importance.