A fireplace is a great addition to your home since it improves your interior’s appearance. During the winter season, it feels good to enjoy the warmth of the red glowing embers in your fireplace. However, poor maintenance of your fireplace can be a hazard to your home, and it can also be unsightly, so it is essential to keep your fireplace in good shape. In between inspections, you can do some simple things that can help keep your fireplace in the best condition. Read on to learn how to keep your fireplace in shape.
Basic Maintenance Tips for Fireplaces
You should always make it a policy that you do not leave a fire burning unattended to avoid the risk of any hazards. You must have your fire extinguisher ready so that you can douse the flames should anything happen. All the same, you need to keep the area around the fireplace clear of debris, paper, and other items that can catch fire easily. While it is tempting to place some decorations close to the fireplace, it is vital to maintain a safe distance. This helps to minimize the chances of unintended consequences such as fire outbreaks.
The other crucial aspect to consider is using a wire mesh screen if your fireplace does not have a glass door. A screen helps prevent sparks from the fireplace that can cause a fire if they get into contact with your furniture or other flammable items nearby. You can get a freestanding screen from your nearest hardware to protect your property against damage that can be caused by wandering sparks coming from the unattended fire.
Use Dry Firewood
One thing that you should always remember is that a fireplace is specifically meant for wood and nothing else if you want to extend its lifespan. You must consider using dry seasoned hardwoods since they do not produce a lot of smoke that can pollute your home. The experts at Buy Firewood Direct explain that suppliers of dried logs have many different types of wood that you can buy to protect your fireplace and chimney. The advantage of buying dried wood is that it is delivered directly to your doorstep, so you need not worry about transportation.
You should avoid using green wood since it creates more creosote that can be unsightly on the fireplace and the walls surrounding it. You also need to be careful and avoid burning moldy, wet, rotten, or diseased wood that can produce harmful gasses. As a rule of thumb, you must avoid burning anything that is not firewood in your fireplace. Some of the items that you must avoid in your firebox include furniture, boxes, magazines, trash, or a Christmas tree which is greenwood. The problem of burning items that are not wood, or at least the proper kind, is that they can release chemical fumes that are also sticky.
Ensure Proper Ventilation in Your Home
You can also keep your fireplace in good shape by ensuring that there is good ventilation in your home. This will enhance the free movement of smoke through the designated chimney to prevent the build-up of soot in and around the fireplace. Proper ventilation also helps reduce the number of pollutants inside your house since they can affect your health. A fire can burn steadily in a room that is well-ventilated which can go a long way in extending the lifespan of your fireplace.
How to Build a Fire
Building a fire is a challenging process that is often taken for granted by many people. There are certain steps that you can take to ensure that you do not damage your fireplace. Before starting a fire, you must open the damper so that excessive smoke is not trapped inside the fireplace. Too much smoke leads to a build-up of soot, which is not only unsightly but can affect the quality of the fireplace.
When the fire is burning, you must close the damper to ensure that the home is separated from the outside world. A damper helps protect your home from foreign elements that can damage your fireplace. The other thing is that an open damper can lead to heat loss which can affect the essence of the fireplace in your home. You must keep the damper closed when nothing is burning inside. For gas burning fires, you must open the damper to prevent gas buildup which can affect the quality of your fireplace.
You must always make sure that you build an appropriate fire that suits the size of your fireplace. For instance, burning too much wood in a small fireplace can lead to overheating which affects other components of the fireplace. Additionally, too much fire can spill out of the fireplace which can affect the surrounding place. You should also note that small fires may not produce sufficient heat to combust all the harmful chemicals found in the wood. As a result, this scenario can lead to an excessive buildup of creosote. Excessive creosote can give a bad impression about the appearance of your home, which can degrade its value.
It is essential to schedule a professional inspection of your chimney and fireplace to identify potential problems that can develop into bigger issues. Clogs in your fireplace can lead to a buildup of smoke and heat, which can pose a hazard to your home. Professional inspectors also know how to handle different problems they diagnose from your fireplace and recommend the best measures to take. As with most fireplaces, they deposit creosote, a substance that is highly flammable which means that it should be removed to ensure safety in your house.
Keep your masonry fireplace in good shape by removing all the ashes with a shovel when they are cool. You can properly dispose of the ashes or use them as manure if you have a garden. You also need to regularly inspect the interior of the fireplace for any signs of cracks since they can allow heat to escape. You can enlist the services of a professional contractor if you observe some problems developing so that you can prevent them from becoming major issues.
Prefabricated Wood Burning Fireplace
When you have a prefabricated wood-burning fireplace, it is critical to read the user manual thoroughly so that you know how to operate it. You should avoid using unapproved items like inserts, grates, or replacement doors since they can damage the fireplace and void your warranty. You must avoid starting a fire using chemicals or other fossil fuels like paraffin, oil, or petrol. More importantly, you must not burn anything in your fireplace except dry wood. Regular inspection of the floor, back, and sides of the fireplace for cracks are important. You must remember that small cracks can expand as a result of heat, so you must not delay fixing them.
Wood Burning Fireplace
You must operate your fireplace with the glass doors closed so that exhaust gases are channeled out through the designated chimney system. You must also inspect the door gaskets to ensure that they are not cracked to give you a tight seal. Before each use, you must also teach yourself to inspect the interior of the firebox for any damaged bricks. You need to replace all cracked bricks if you identify any. A crack might appear small but with heat, it significantly expands. The continuous expansion and contraction of cracked bricks can cause further damage to the fireplace, and you must prevent such issues while they are still in the formative stages.
Regular inspection of exposed chimney pipes is important to ensure that they are not separated or corroded. Holes in the chimney pipes can lead to leakages of exhaust gases, and they can enter your home which can affect the quality of air. When a fireplace is causing air pollution in your house, it would no longer be serving its purpose. Therefore, you need to ensure that all damages are repaired before they develop into huge problems that can be costly to repair.
A Fireplace Outside the House
Other homeowners prefer to have fireplaces outside, depending on their unique needs. While this is a matter of personal preference, you must ensure that the area around the chimney is clear and free from tree branches and other obstacles. The other important thing is to ensure that the fireplace is protected and does not easily get wet when it is raining. Damp surfaces around your fireplace can lead to rusting of metal components that can affect their longevity. Damp walls around the fireplace can quickly deteriorate, and this can greatly impact its appearance. You must also look out for peeling paint or cement around the fireplace that can be caused by heat. When you identify signs of cracking, you need to repair them before they develop.
Install a Chimney Cap
A chimney cap is a vital item for any person who is interested in maintaining their fireplace in good shape. A chimney is designed to emit smoke from the fireplace while at the same time preventing elements from outside to get inside your fireplace. When it is raining, a cap acts as a shield to prevent water from entering your house and fireplace. Moisture can damage the walls around the fireplace which can degrade its value. Similarly, you must also install a cricket ridge on your roof that helps divert water from the chimney. As you are now aware, water can damage your fireplace, and it can also shorten its lifespan.
Always Clean Your Fireplace
Regular cleaning of your fireplace is the best remedy that can help you prevent various issues that can impact your chimney. You should not wait until wintertime to clean your fireplace. Instead, it is good practice to clean the fireplace after use and never leave ashes inside during the off-season. Regularly sweep up the soot and keep your fireplace clean to avoid the build-up of substances that can affect its appearance.
You must clean the glass of your fireplace after a few uses to prevent the buildup of creosote. When cleaning the glass, you must use the right products that are designed for that specific purpose and also follow the recommendations offered by the manufacturer. You should avoid using tools like scrappers since they can leave unsightly scratches. When cleaning the wall surfaces, avoid using materials that can cause scraps to the walls. You must also know the normal burning patterns of your fireplace so that you can tell if something is wrong.
You need to get special fireplace cement and a caulking tube that you can use to repair little chips between the bricks. The advantage of using the special cement for fireplaces is that it can withstand heat and it does not peel off easily. Before you repair the walls, you must make sure that they are clean and fill the cracks with mortar. You must leave the mortar to set for about 24 hours before you make a new fire. Once the special cement for fireplaces dries, it does not crack easily which can help extend the lifespan of your fireplace.
A fireplace is a good feature that you must have inside your home. A well-designed fireplace significantly improves the appearance of your home, and it also adds value. It also helps to keep your house warm during the winter season when temperatures are usually low. However, a fireplace is susceptible to constant wear and tear depending on your usage. The good news is that there are certain measures that you can take to maintain your fireplace in good shape. You must use dry wood only in your fireplace to avoid excessive creosote that can be caused by excessive smoke from green wood and other items that are not firewood.
You must clean your fireplace regularly and also schedule an inspection with a professional contractor. When cleaning the fireplace, you must use the recommended products and also make sure that you do not use a scrap. Inspection is good since it helps you to identify potential problems before they manifest into bigger issues. It is vital to repair small damages that you can manage and leave large tasks to experienced contractors in the same field.