If you want to enjoy a cozy winter at home, you need a fireplace. Fireplaces are one of the most sought-after features for homebuyers, which can add value to your home, as well as your home life!
However, cleaning a fireplace is essential for longevity, aesthetics, and even safety! Here are some helpful tips on residential fireplace maintenance to help get you started!
1. Sweep the Chimney
Chimneysweeps are still just as important today as they’ve historically been. If you have a fireplace, it’s important to sweep your chimney at least once a year. It isn’t too expensive to do, and it can prevent a lot of serious issues.
The job of a chimneysweep is to visually inspect your chimney for any buildups or blockages and to remove them as needed. Without this, you are at risk of carbon monoxide buildup in your home, which kills at least 430 Americans every year and sends far more to the hospital.
Also, it’s important to inspect the metal flashing around your chimney. This is what prevents water from coming into your home. It needs to remain tight against the chimney, as it can fold back over time.
2. Clean Your Ashes (Properly)
Cleaning out the ashes is the most basic level of fireplace care. Every month during fire season, you need to clean out the firebox. If you use the fireplace as a primary heating source, aim for every couple of weeks.
However, don’t clean it too thoroughly. Instead, when you remove the firebox to clean it, leave a little bit of ash behind. This will help insulate the coals, allowing them to retain heat better.
Also, when removing the ashes, be very careful to leave them in a container made of metal, away from flammable materials. Small coals in ashes can remain surprisingly hot for much longer than one would think, so this is an important safety tip to keep in mind!
3. Use the Right Wood
We strongly recommend using seasoned firewood in your fireplace. These are logs that have been dried out for at least one year. Wet wood creates more smoke, which can cause excess carbon monoxide in the air, greater buildup in your chimney, and more.
Of course, that’s not to mention that wet wood is simply poor fuel. Starting fires will be much more challenging with wet wood, and the results will be far poorer. Seasoned firewood is not much more expensive, but it is a much better fuel source.
Also, it’s important to store your wood appropriately. It should remain stacked and in a covered enclosure, protected from the weather. Otherwise, you are inviting rodents and insects to come to destroy your firewood.
Lastly, you want to choose the right wood for your fuel source. If you’re simply burning wood, don’t worry about it, but you may need specific wood for gas fireplaces or other fixtures. Always use what the manufacturer recommends!
4. Fill Gaps in Bricks
If you have a brick fireplace, grab some cement and a trowel to fill those gaps. These gaps will build over time due to the natural expansion and contraction of materials exposed to hot fires and cold air. Gaps aren’t anything to worry too much about, but with enough large gaps, fire can seep through and burn your home’s structure.
Seriously, this is a very simple fix if you remain diligent about it. All you need is a putty knife and some mortar or a refractory caulk.
Also, remember that this is just as important for your outside chimney. Water damage is just as detrimental as fire damage, so if you see any gaps forming, fill them as soon as possible. It’s a simple fix that can prevent a lot of serious damage.
5. Cleaning a Fireplace
Cleaning your bricks or other surrounding materials can really help improve their longevity and aesthetics, and you don’t even have to do it too often. If you want to do it every few months, simply wipe the area down with some warm water and dish detergent.
However, if it’s been a while, you may need to bring in the big guns. For example, if there’s a serious buildup of blackened material, use hot water and tri-sodium phosphate (TSP). Still, if you keep it clean, you won’t need much!
Also, as an important safety tip, remember to clean any debris around your fireplace or wood stove. Anything that’s flammable could get too hot or catch a spark, and that’s all it takes to start a house fire!
6. Consider Using a Fireplace Insert
Fireplaces are lovely for creating a cozy atmosphere, but they are challenging to maintain and pose several risks. If your fireplace is sealed off from your home already, then you don’t have to worry as much about carbon monoxide. However, an insert can help contain the ashes, disperse the heat, and remove any harmful chemicals through your chimney.
If you’re new to fireplaces, check out some of the most popular fireplace products on the market to see what works for your home!
Follow These Fireplace Maintenance Tips
Now that you know some helpful fireplace maintenance tips, put them to use and keep your system running smoothly for as long as possible. There’s no reason to accept that a fireplace will only last for a certain amount of time, so keep yours in good shape
Stay up to date with our latest tips for homeowners, and contact us for any help with your fireplace needs!