With winter coming faster than we’d like, it’s important to keep your fireplace in good working order. Here are eleven steps to a well-maintained fireplace.
Clear Out the Ashes
If you haven’t done so, clean out any remaining ashes from your fireplace. During the winter, you need to remove ashes regularly, since too much of an accumulation can cause the fire to burn out quickly. Leaving about an inch of ashes in the bottom of your fireplace makes it easier to build and maintain the fire. You can use the ash you’ve cleared out to melt the ice in your walkway or to add to your compost.
Check Firebricks for Damage
Look for cracks or loose joints in and around the bricks. Hire a professional to make any repairs since a special mortar must be used to withstand high heat.
Clean the Hearth
Clean the outer hearth if it’s stained with soot. For brick hearths, use brick cleaner, water and a scrub brush. A concrete hearth can be cleaned with oxygen bleach, and a slate one can be cleaned with hydrogen peroxide and water.
Clean the Fireplace Doors
If your fireplace has glass doors, clean them with glass fireplace door cleaner and paper towel. You can also use a razor blade to remove any stubborn layers of soot. Use soap and water to clean out any dirt that remains. If your fireplace doesn’t have any doors, you might consider adding some. Doors on a fireplace provide a safe environment, since they prevent sparks from flying out of the fireplace. They also improve the energy efficiency of your fireplace.
Inspect the Damper
Make sure the damper is free of any debris and is able to open, close and seal easily and properly. If the damper needs to be cleaned, use a stiff bristle brush.
Sweep the Chimney
Ask a professional to inspect and sweep your chimney. Sweeping the chimney removes any creosote buildup, which is highly flammable and can cause chimney fires.
Check the Chimney Cap
Make sure that the chimney cap is in good condition and is firmly attached. The cap should have a protective screen that stops small animals and birds from entering the chimney.
Inspect the Chimney
Check the mortar and bricks on the chimney. If you see major cracks, ask a professional to fix them.
Clear Nearby Branches
Cut tree branches that are too close to the chimney. These can become a fire hazard and can restrict a proper draft. Clean any branches or debris off the roof.
Stock-Up on Wood
Get your wood ready for winter. Hardwood, dried for at least six months is best, as it burns cleaner and hotter than damp or softwood. Store the wood away from the house to avoid having any issues with unwelcomed pests or mould in your home.
Test Your Smoke Alarm
Last but not least, test your smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure they’re in working order and change the batteries if need be.
By applying these tips, your wood fireplace will be ready when the snow falls. All you’ll need to do is put a log in the hearth, sit back, and enjoy the crackling warmth of your fireplace!