7 Tips For Maintaining A Fireplace

When the weather gets chilly, nothing feels better than sitting in front of a fireplace in your living room. It is just so cozy and relaxing. Using your fireplace regularly during the winter can also help you save money on heating bills. However, a fireplace requires maintenance in order to work efficiently and safely. Here are seven helpful tips for maintaining your fireplace:

Keep Things Clean

If you want to keep your fireplace in top shape, you must clean it on a regular basis. Allowing too much ash and soot to build up in your fireplace can increase the risk of fires. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you have to remove ashes once they begin to smell. Use a small shovel to pick up the ashes and throw them in the garbage. If you see soot around the fireplace opening, you can clean it up with a stiff brush and masonry cleaner.

Keep Combustible Materials Away from Your Fireplace

When a fire is burning, you have to make sure combustible materials, such as rugs and furniture, are far away from your fireplace. If these items are too close, they can increase the risk of a house fire.

Put a Grate Cover in Front of Your Fireplace

If you have small children or pets in the house, it is a good idea to place a grate cover in front of your fireplace. This cover will prevent hot embers from coming out of the fireplace and hurting your loved ones. Installing this cover in front of your fireplace will also prevent curious kids and pets from getting too close to the fireplace and burning themselves.

Have the Chimney Professionally Swept and Inspected

Getting your chimney professionally swept and inspected once a year is one of the most important things you can do for your fireplace. This is because soot and creosote can accumulate in your chimney over time and start a fire. At the end of each summer, hire a skilled professional to remove soot and creosote with chimney brushes and vacuums. During the inspection, the professional will also check for cracks in the firebox, missing bricks and other issues.

Do Not Burn Softwood

When you have to decide what type of wood to burn in your fireplace, you have two options: softwood and hardwood. Softwoods are woods like pine, cedar, and redwood, while hardwood comes from trees like ash, maple, and oak. It is a good idea to choose hardwood over softwood because it delivers more heat and causes less creosote buildup. Hardwood tends to be more expensive than softwood, but it is worth the cost.

Store Your Wood Properly

Before you burn wood in your fireplace, check to see that it is completely dry first. If you attempt to put damp wood in your fireplace, it will not burn consistently. Storing your wood correctly will keep it nice and dry. If you want to keep your wood outside, you should cover it with a tarp to prevent rain from getting on it.

Check Your Chimney Cap

Your chimney is covered with a cap to keep debris, birds, and other animals from coming in. It is a wise idea to periodically check this cap for cracks and holes and replace it when necessary.

Maintaining a fireplace takes a little extra work, but it is definitely worth the effort. If you follow these helpful tips, you can keep your fireplace in terrific shape and prevent dangerous situations. If your fireplace does not seem to be working as well as it used to, you should have a professional come inspect it right away.