Fireplace Maintenance Guide: How to Maintain your Fireplace
Fireplaces add beauty to your home in the warmer months and provide warmth in the colder months of the year. Taking care of it throughout the year is not only essential for your fireplace longevity; it’s essential to the safe operation of your fireplace. Fireplace maintenance is a regular task that every homeowner should do at a minimum twice a year. Always be sure to follow the manufacturer’s fireplace maintenance instructions, as well as these basic suggestions when caring for your fireplace. In this guide we will dive into the following fireplace maintenance types:
- Wood Fireplace Maintenance
- Gas Fireplace Maintenance
- Electric Fireplace Maintenance
How to Maintain a Wood Burning Fireplace
Wood burning fireplaces are a great addition to any home and keep it warm in colder months of the year. Wood fireplace maintenance doesn't require much and should be done twice a year to ensure it is working as it should. Follow these basic wood fireplace maintenance steps:
- Conduct a checkup twice a year, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Clean the firebox and screens before each use.
- Clean exterior fireplaces before each use.
Use the manufacturer’s safety precautions, suggestions, and instructions for managing wood fuel; starting fires; operating the damper, doors, and other features; and cleaning the fireplace.
How to Maintain Gas and Electric Fireplaces
Gas fireplace maintenance and electric fireplace maintenance is much easier than wood fireplaces as their fuel source doesn't create a mess. This makes caring for these fireplaces a breeze, but there are still some steps you should take to ensure they operate safely and effectively.
- Conduct a checkup twice a year or after an extended period of disuse.
- Never burn wood in a gas or electric fireplace.
- Keep flammable objects away
- Remove electrical hazard
- Dust the inside and outside
- For electric fireplaces, change the lightbulb regularly
Call a licensed contractor if you see arcing, or call the gas company if you smell gas. Don't use the fireplace until after it’s been repaired.
How to Light a Fire in a Fireplace
To Start Fires in your fireplace you'll will want follow these steps:
- Prevent smoking at start-up by closing any window located near the fireplace when lighting a fire. You can reopen the windows once the chimney starts drawing.
- Remove any debris from the hearth area before lighting a fire. Debris too close to the fireplace can catch fire.
- Make sure the chimney damper is open.
- Start the fire slowly to get a gradual buildup of heat and smoke.
- Light a section of newspaper, and hold it up into the flue to start the chimney updraft more easily; this keeps the fireplace from heating too quickly and cracking the firebrick.
Never build a fire directly on the fireplace floor. Always use andirons or a grate and a well-fitted fireplace screen. The best wood for burning is well-seasoned wood that’s been stored correctly and dried for at least six months.
How to Burn Fires Safely in a Fireplace
Now that you have your fire started, let's make sure that it burns safely and keeps you and your family nice and warm.
Follow these simple steps to burn a fire safely in a fireplace:
- Close the damper after using the fireplace to keep air conditioning from escaping through the chimney.
- Add a handful of salt to the re occasionally to help keep soot from accumulating.
- Never leave fire in your fireplace unattended.
- Never burn treated lumber. It will emit creosote or poisonous gases, which can build up in the flue or enter the home.
- Store firewood outside to avoid insects entering your home with the wood.
How to Check if Your Fireplace Damper Seal is Working
Part of proper fireplace maintenance is ensuring that the different parts of it are working as intended. An important component to frequently check is the damper seal. To make sure the seal on the damper is working properly, hold a tissue near the damper and check for drafts blowing the tissue around. Call for service if the damper isn’t working properly.
Visit the manufacturer of your fireplace damper seal for more information.