How often do you take the time to thank your fireplace for all the times it kept you warm during power outages? How about those nights where its flickering flames sparked an evening of romance, or those times when its unmistakable smell brought comfort and calm to your life?
There's a great way to thank your fireplace - take good care of it!
- Encourage good draft up your chimney. You can do this by keeping a window open while you burn a fire. The air entering your room will get sucked up the chimney. Opening a window also ensures that your indoor air quality stays good while you burn the fire.
- Open glass doors when you use the fireplace. If you have glass fireplace doors, invest in a screen to block the fire instead of using glass. Doing so will also aid in ventilating the fire and encouraging airflow through the flue.
- Hire a chimney sweep. The flue inside your chimney suffers a gradual build-up of creosote (hard-layered residue from the wood-smoke), which can catch fire. You have to clean your chimney periodically in order to avoid such a catastrophe. This isn't a do-it-yourself project; you need to hire a professional to clean your chimney. You should have your chimney cleaned once a year if you use it a lot. If you use your fireplace two or three times per week during colder months, have it inspected and cleaned each year. Another handy method is to inspect and clean after every 70 fires. Ask the chimney inspector about the condition of your flue liner and (if you have a masonry chimney) mortar.
- How to reduce creosote build-up?
- Proper wood. Dry hardwood logs are ideal for your fireplace; less moisture means more complete combustion.
- Ventilation. A smoky fire is the result of wet wood, poor ventilation or both. You can improve ventilation by keeping glass fireplace doors open (replacing them with a mesh screen).
- Clean the ash out of the fireplace. Wearing a dust mask, open a window in the room and then open the damper to let the draft suck any airborne ash out of the fireplace. Then, using fire gloves, remove the old coals. You can use the broom and dust pan fireplace tools to carefully and slowly gather the dust that remains along the floor of the fireplace. Remember to wait about three days after the original fire to do any of this; embers stay hot for a surprisingly long time!
- Chimney cap. Not only can an uncapped chimney collect gunk and debris, but it can also cause your damper to rust or even invite animals to make it their unlucky home. Proper fireplace maintenance requires that you have a chimney cap on top.
- Glass doors and facades. You can purchase glass cleaners, brick cleaners and other appropriate cleaners to maintain the happy appearance of your fireplace. If you have dish soap handy, simply dilute it to make your own glass cleaner.
These simple steps can ensure that your enjoyment of the fireplace is not dampened by lingering doubts about safety. Let your fireplace know that you care; keep it maintained and running smoothly!