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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Wood-Burning Fireplaces: Maintenance Tips

12/22/2021 (Permalink)

fireplace burnt black This is a picture of what was left of a home after a chimney fire.

By now, the extra fuzzy, thermal socks have been pulled out, a grocery run has been made for eggnog and hot chocolate, and now it’s time to crank up the fireplace!

Fireplaces are a great feature to have in the home. However, Fireplaces, chimneys, and chimney connectors are also three of the leading causes of house fires. Keeping the inside and outside of fireplaces clean can help prevent that! It is never a bad idea to hire a professional chimney sweep to come in and do a more thorough cleaning of the chimney in between each winter season. Before using the fireplace for the first time since last winter, there are a few safety and maintenance tips to consider!

  1. Clear Debris From The Roof
    • Aside from Santa, of course, leaves, pine needles, and other debris can land on the roof and fall into the chimney. Although chimney caps help reduce this risk, during the active fireplace season, homeowners should also inspect the roof for any unknown fallen tree limbs that may have broken off after a recent storm.
  2. Remove The Ash
    • When a fireplace is being used frequently, it is important to keep an eye on the ash levels building inside the firebox. An excessive amount of ash can cause fires to burn out quickly if not removed regularly. However, don’t clean out the firebox every time it’s used. Building and maintaining a fire is a lot easier if an inch of ash is left in the firebox. Excess ash should be discarded into a fireproof bin or used for other resourceful things such as garden compost or tossed on concrete to melt ice during a freeze.
  3. Wash The Glass Doors & Hearth
    • After an extended length of time, soot begins to build on the glass doors of the fireplace and hearth. If the glass doors are smudged, it may obstruct the homeowner's view of the fire and hinder proper fire maintenance. Water and soap are recommended for the thinner areas of soot on the glass, and a razor blade is recommended for removing thicker soot layers. For concrete hearths, oxygen bleach is recommended for cleaning. However, slate hearths require water and hydrogen peroxide. Water, a scrubbing brush, and specific brick cleaners are ideal for brick hearths.
  4. Check The Smoke Detectors
    • The use of a functioning smoke alarm is extremely important, but it is especially essential for winter fireplace maintenance. There should be a smoke alarm located inside and outside of every bedroom and on every level of the home. Homeowners should inspect the alarms regularly to ensure that they are working properly.

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