The warmth from a roaring fire can be very relaxing during the chilly and bitter winter months. A wood burning fireplace not only protects you from the freezing cold but also adds style. It can add to the aesthetic appeal of a room and make it look both classy and rustic. But you must remember to regularly clean and maintain your fireplace. Regular inspection of the various parts of a fireplace will keep it safe and in tip top shape. If you plan on cleaning it yourself, you should probably get it inspected by a professional first. Everything from the lintel, the bricks, the damper and the outside of the chimney must be looked at. Get hold of the latest fireplace trends via loews.com
Here are 15 important tips for regular cleaning and maintenance of a fireplace.
1) Remove the ashesStart cleaning your fireplace by removing the ashes first. Make sure that the deposit of the ashes is not deeper than 2 inches after burning season. Get a fireplace shovel and use it to collect the ashes and store them in a bucket. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the rest of the ashes. You can sprinkle the ashes on your flowerbeds as they are a good source of calcium and other nutrients. Get this great CitruSafe Gas Log Soot Remover – Remove Built-Up Soot and Ashes on Vented Gas Wood – Fresh Pine Scent (24 oz) from Amazon.
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2) Clean the interior
It is very important to clean the interior of a fireplace and a chimney regularly. It will increase the quality of the burning fire as well. The buildup of fine particles can travel by air and cause air borne diseases in people. They can also cause your fireplace to catch fire without any reason. Put on a dust mask or respirator before you start cleaning to avoid unhealthy exposure to dust. Start running the vacuum and scrub the interior walls of the fireplace with a stiff brush. It is always a good idea to have an item like the Millrose 04964 from riverbendhome.com.
3) Remove creosote while cleaning
This is a black or dark brown tar like substance that gets deposited on the walls. It is combustible in nature and excessive buildup can cause your chimney to catch fire. Spray a mixture of soapy water on the surface and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then scrub well using a stiff wire brush. If the stains are too stubborn, mix one-part muriatic acid with ten parts water. Apply this on the brick or stone walls for 30 minutes and then scrub it off.
4) Clean deposited soot regularly
Soot is another harmful by product of burning wood. It is soft and spreads very easily. Too much of its deposition can cause a fire outbreak in your home. So, clean it well every time the deposit gets deeper than 1/8 of an inch.
5) Only burn hardwood
Only burn hardwood like oak, birch, maple, ash, almond wood or fruit wood in your fireplace. They burn cleaner and hotter unlike softwoods like pine, poplar, cedar or spruce. Hardwoods are more expensive, but they produce less smoke and creosote. It should be seasoned wood and not green wood. Use wood that has been cut and dried under cover for six to twelve months. They will have less than 20% moisture. Split wood also dries better and burns more efficiently as compared to whole logs. Get this great Smoak Firewood – Kiln Dried Premium Oak Firewood (Includes Firestarter) (Small Mini Logs (8 inch Pieces) 25-30lbs) from Amazon.
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6) Store the wood well
The wood needs to be completely dry and seasoned for at least 6 months. If you store the wood outside your house, keep it at least a foot off the ground. Cover the pile with a tarp to keep it clean and dry.
7) Install a chimney cap
Add a chimney cap to the top of your chimney if it’s not present. It will keep small animals, birds, leaves and debris away. Clean it regularly toavoid debris accumulation which will disturb the airflow.
8) Avoid smoke and incomplete combustion
To avoid sending smoke inside your home, the fire needs to burn very hot as quickly as possible. If you see smoke from your fireplace, you should clean it immediately.
9) Keep combustible items away
Don’t place anything like curtains, carpets or wooden furniture near the fireplace. Combustible goods like a wooden mantel should be placed at least 12 inches above the lintel.
10) Install alarms for safety
You should place smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the house. They will detect any excess smoke inside the room. Place it about 10 feet away from the fireplace to avoid false alarms. Get this great X-Sense 10 Year Battery Carbon Monoxide Alarm, CO Alarm Detector with LCD Display, Compliant with UL 2034 Standard, Auto-Check & Silence Button, CD01 from Amazon.
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11) Install heat proof glass doors
Heat proof glass doors add an extra layer of protection before the fireplace. It will contain any burning particles like dust, embers and cinders. They are especially necessary if you have children in the house. Get a smart glass door like the Frosted Glass/Paneled Metal and Glass Broadway Barn Door with Installation Hardware Kit from wayfair.com right away.
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12) Look for cracks on the chimney
Look for any cracks while inspecting the chimney. Mend any cracked tile liners or crumbling mortar and replace any missing bricks. If you have a metal chimney, look for dust, dents, missing screws and any signs of rusting.
13) Inspect the damper regularly
The damper is a metal or ceramic flap inside the flue. It allows air to enter the chimney and the smoke to escape. Inspect and clean it regularly to ensure proper airflow.
14) Keep the chimney dry
Try to keep your chimney as dry as possible throughout the year. Water and snow can cause extensive damage to the chimney.
15) Schedule an annual inspection
Hire a professional to inspect the fireplace every year before winter. These routine check-ups may avoid the occurrence of any safety hazards. Find about professional inspectors via houzz.com.