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Fireplace Maintenance

Hanna KielarDecember 21, 2019

There’s really nothing better than using your fireplace on a cold day. While a fireplace can be a wonderful addition to your home, it can also become a hazard and inconvenience when you disregard its maintenance. The good news is that it’s easy to keep your fireplace in tip-top shape so that you and your family can enjoy it for years to come.

How Do You Maintain A Fireplace?

By following these fireplace maintenance tips, you can ensure it stays clean and doesn’t compromise the safety of your home.

Clean The Debris

Regardless of whether you use your fireplace often, it’s important to clean it on a regular basis. Failure to do so can lead to serious fire hazards. You can vacuum or sweep the fireplace area to get rid of any dust or chips that may be there. To protect your health, it’s a good idea to put on a respirator before cleaning.

Install A Chimney Cap

Check your fireplace and find out whether a chimney cap has been installed. If not, install one to help prevent water damage and keep debris from blocking its opening. A chimney cap can also keep animals out and prevent sparks from flying out and causing a fire.

Use The Right Wood

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, know that not all woods are created equal. Hardwoods like maple and birch are ideal as they generate more heat, burn for longer periods of time, and most importantly, don’t produce as much creosote as softwoods.

Clean Gas

If you have a gas fireplace, it likely features a glass door. Remove it and use a soft cloth and household window cleaner to thoroughly clean it. Then, thoroughly dry the glass with a paper towels to prevent any streaking. Make sure you wait at least a half-hour to use the fireplace to allow the window cleaner to completely evaporate before it’s exposed to flames.

Consult A Professional

Even if you plan to maintain your fireplace yourself, contact a professional who can check it once a year. They can make sure your fireplace is safe and functioning optimally.

How Do I Know If My Fireplace Is Safe To Use?

Wondering if your fireplace is safe to use? Here are some guidelines.

Check The Firebox

Take a close look at your firebox. If you find any cracks, gaps, or signs of wear along the lining, have a professional repair it before using it.

Look For Smoke Signs

If you notice stains on the ceiling near your fireplace or above its opening, smoke may be escaping from a gap between the firebox and hearth. A professional can inform you whether the issue can be fixed or if you need a replacement.

Inspect The Chimney

Avoid using your fireplace until you’ve had your chimney inspected by a professional. Don’t assume your chimney is in good shape, and don’t ignore it because you don’t want to climb on your roof to inspect it.

Evaluate Your Grate

The metal grate you use to hold firewood shouldn’t be more than two-thirds of the size of your fireplace opening. Here’s why: If a grate is too big, you may be tempted to add too much wood and cause your fireplace to overheat. Replace your grate with a smaller one if you find it’s too large.

What Should You Not Burn In A Fireplace?

Unfortunately, there are many items that are dangerous to burn in a fireplace, including:

Wet Wood

Since wet firewood generates more smoke than dry firewood, it can create creosote to build-up in your chimney walls.

Christmas Trees

When the holidays are over, it may seem logical to get rid of your Christmas tree by tossing it in your fireplace. Find another way to dispose of it as trees are packed with resin, which can burn quickly and cause a chimney fire.

Plastic

Refrain from throwing all types of plastic including bags, bubble wrap, and bottles in your fireplace. Burning plastic release harmful chemicals that can take a serious toll on your health.

Charcoal

Save your charcoal for your barbecue grill, not your fireplace. Burning charcoal releases carbon monoxide, which can be very harmful to you and your family.

Take Care Of Your Fireplace

While it may seem like another thing to add to your to-do list, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of caring for your fireplace. Maintaining it can save you a great deal of headaches and money in the future.

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    Hanna Kielar

    Hanna Kielar is an Associate Section Editor for Rocket Companies focused on personal finance, recruiting and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.