A fireplace is a functional and cozy addition to any home. To keep a wood-burning fireplace operating smoothly and efficiently you need to stay on top of maintenance a bit more than you would a gas fireplace. What should you be looking out for?
The chimney exists to remove byproduct gasses from inside the home. It should be inspected at least once a year to make sure that creosote isn’t building up and that cracks aren’t forming. You should take action if you see creosote built up higher than 1/8 inches in between inspections. You can protect your chimney and extend its life by installing a lining. The lining should also be inspected once a year, and sometimes requires Maryland chimney relining.
Some ash in your fireplace is a good thing. About an inch of ash in the firebox facilitates a longer-lasting fire. However, it should be cleaned out if it gets too high or reaches the grate. If you have an ash door, dump or chute you should be using that. Removed ash can be sprinkled in your garden as nutrients. To avoid inefficient fires that cause soot and creosote be sure to burn hardwoods, not softwoods. You should also only burn seasoned wood, not green wood.
A fireplace can be dangerous if not handled correctly. Install a fire alarm and carbon monoxide alarm nearby so that you know right away when something is wrong. Be sure to keep combustibles away from the box and hearth- things like carpeting, curtains and furniture. Place a guard in front of the fireplace to keep small children and pets safe. Clean everything regularly, and wear a mask and gloves when you do so.
Learning how your fireplace works is a good idea for any homeowner. You can also learn these maintenance skills yourself, although it is recommended to reach out to a professional for regular inspections and cleaning. Now, go enjoy a cozy fire!