Your fireplace is the focal point of your home. The crackling sound of the wood and the glow coming from the fire makes it feel homey and warm. Your fireplace should continue filling the house with warmth and enhance the style for many years. For proper fireplace maintenance, use these tips to get the best results and avoid problems with your fireplace.
Clean The Interior
If you are looking for a way to improve the ambiance of your house, a wood-burning fireplace is a great choice. However, there will be a lot of by-products from burning wood, and it’s prudent to remove them regularly. By cleaning the interior of your wood-burning fireplace, you can improve aesthetics and make the fireplace more efficient when providing heat. Even better, you can sprinkle the ashes in your garden to make the best nutrients for your plants. When cleaning the fireplace, make sure you have worn a dust mask.
Install Carbon Monoxide And Smoke Alarms
Yes, a fireplace will prove the best type of warmth for your home. However, it is also a potential health hazard. If your fireplace is properly installed, it will not pose any issues. Note that you will likely suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning when there is a clogged chimney or vent system. Carbon monoxide poisoning is fatal because the gas is colourless and odourless, so it’s hard to detect.
Another health hazard of having a fireplace in your home is the smoke coming out of it. The smoke usually enters the chimney. However, if there is too much dirt build-up or foreign materials, the chimney will be blocked, forcing the smoke into your home. You should install a carbon monoxide detector and a smoke alarm in your house to ensure that the fireplace isn’t malfunctioning.
Remove Soot And Creosote Buildup
After burning wood, creosote is one of the components usually left behind. It happens if you use wood that hasn’t dried entirely or is adequately stored. The black/brown residues found in the chimney’s inner walls are flammable. They often cause obstructions in the chimney and fire too. Another hideous and harmful by-product of burning wood is soot. It is softer than creosotes, but it is a huge fire risk. It also sticks to a broader area. You should hire a professional to remove these residues to prevent blockage of airflow that might lead to numerous fireplace issues.
Check The Chimney And The Cap
For your fireplace to be efficient, you need to have a properly functioning chimney. It doesn’t matter whether it’s metal or masonry. It needs to be regularly checked for dents, cracks and rust since they signify a larger problem.
Chimneys also have caps made out of metal or stone slabs. They are designed to keep birds, water and other materials out. The chimney cap has a screen on the side that also arrests any sparks. You should check the screen and cap regularly and replace them as needed.
Use The Right Type Of Wood
You might assume that there is no difference in the types of wood often used in fireplaces. However, there are remarkable differences that you should know when using a wood-burning fireplace. It would be best to use seasoned hardwood such as maple, oaks and birch. Avoid softwood types such as pine and cedar. If wood is dried correctly, it should have 20% less moisture.
You should try the wood for 6-12 months before burning it in the fireplace. Split the logs into smaller pieces to allow them to dry faster. Hardwood is often more expensive, but it produces more heat and burns longer. Also, hardwood doesn’t create a lot of creosote like softwoods.
Test The Fireplace Before Using It
Before using the fireplace, you need to make sure it works perfectly. You can start by lighting up a few pieces of wood and checking whether the smoke is released through the chimney. If the smoke gets inside the house, you could correct the problem immediately before adding more wood. If there is an obstruction in the chimney duct or too much soot or creosote build-up, wet wood or closed damper, it needs to be corrected immediately.
Install A Blower And Heat Proof Glass Door
If you want a safer, efficient and easy-to-maintain wood-burning fireplace, you should install a glass door and blower. The glass door prevents sparks and embers from getting into the house. It will also prevent curious children and pets from getting close to the heat.
Note that a heat-proof glass is easy to maintain. Dip a paper towel or damp newspaper into the ashes, then wipe the soot from the glass. If too much build-up is tough to remove, you can use light sandpaper to remove it from the glass. Also, when you have installed a blower or fan, it circulates the heat to cover a bigger space, and the fireplace will be more efficient.
Troubleshoot And Correct Problems Immediately They Happen
It would help if you troubleshoot and correct issues after they happen. If there is a tiny crack in the mortar of your chimney, there could be a more significant issue at hand. It might also become a bigger problem that’s harder to repair. Some of the things you need to look out for include the following.
- Look out for smoke filling up the room instead of being released through the chimney.
- If there are white stains on the chimney bricks (efflorescence), it’s a sign of excess moisture caused by leakage. If not checked, the stain could become mould infestation or cause further damage to the chimney. Also, if there is rust, it’s a sign of water damage.
- If there are spalling bricks, it’s a sign that the aging masonry needs a sealant. Otherwise, the bricks will disintegrate, resulting in further issues.
Always Consider Safety Precautions
If you have a fireplace, you must make sure that everyone in your home is safe. Use these tips for the best results when it comes to ensuring safety.
- Any combustible carpets or furniture should be far away from the hearth. If there is a rug in front of the hearth, it should be fireproof.
- Use the proper tools for cleaning the fireplace
- Never leave the fire unattended. Instead, you should extinguish it before going to sleep or when leaving the house.
Hire A Fireplace Maintenance Expert
To ensure that the fireplace works efficiently and safely, you should hire a professional chimney sweep to inspect it once every year. You can plan for regular inspections if there are signs of trouble or creosote build-up. Yes, a fireplace will add the appeal of your home, but you need to maintain it regularly to make sure it works efficiently without bringing a health and safety risk to your family. Use these and more tips to ensure that your fireplace is working correctly.