Tips for Fireplace Use and Maintenance for Safety

Open book by fireplace.Fireplaces are a beautiful addition to any home. Whether it’s a modern fireplace with state-of-the-art technology or a traditional brick fireplace, the upkeep and maintenance should be the same. It’s important to keep up with cleaning and maintenance for aesthetic as well as safety reasons. It’s also vital to have a home warranty that can cover appliances damaged in a fire.

Routine, Scheduled Maintenance

Once a week, or after every fire, clean the fireplace of any residue from previous fires. Ash and soot builds in the bottom of the fireplace, along the inner walls and on the grates. It becomes messy and dangerous if left to build up over time.

Wait 12 hours before attempting to vacuum or dust the fireplace. There can’t be any chance of the embers being hot, or it could start an unintentional fire. Homeowners with a fireplace might want to consider a firebox for old ashes. After waiting until the fire cools completely, the fireplace should be swept and vacuumed.

At least once a week, the fireplace should be given a deep cleaning. The inner walls should be scrubbed with a stiff brush. If the fireplace is made of brick, be careful since the masonry could crumble and allow fire access to the home’s walls. Any grates, fireplace implements and grills should be cleaned too.

Yearly Maintenance

Once a year, the homeowner should hire an inspector to make sure the chimney is in good physical condition and to clean out the chimney. Over time, creosote from burning wood builds in the chimney walls. This substance is extremely flammable and could ignite the inner walls of the chimney.

The chimney has a cap on either end to keep small animals like birds and squirrels from entering, and to keep debris like leaves and dirt from falling into the chimney. The caps need to be inspected, cleaned and repaired if there’s a problem.

Troubleshooting

Any smoke that leaks into the home indicates a problem. A chimney packed with creosote or soot build up can cause smoke to enter the home. There might be debris blocking the chimney or the damper might not be open. There could be any number of reasons why smoke isn’t traveling out of the chimney, but it’s important that the fire is extinguished immediately so an investigation of the cause can begin.

Fireplace Tips for Safety

  • Only burn hardwoods if possible. They have less sap, will burn longer and don’t leave as much creosote.
  • Don’t start a fire in the home using liquids like gas or kerosene.
  • Stick to woods in the fire. Other materials could cause a fire to burn too hot or release chemicals into the air.

Added Protection

Glass doors are great protection from embers escaping into the room. They will increase the fireplace’s heat efficiency if the fireplace is used as a heating source too. Glass doors are heat proof when they are specially made for fireplaces. They are easy to clean and should be washed down after every fire especially if soot builds up frequently.

If there are small children in the home, adding an extra layer of protection to the fireplace is vital for their safety. There are gates and guards that will protect the children from harm. Large gates will keep the child at a safe distance, and guards will cover the raised brick to keep the sharp edges from hurting a child if he or she falls.

Fireplace maintenance is vital to fire safety in the home. The biggest problem with fireplaces is the buildup of harmful and flammable substances that are not cleaned out of the chimney. Blockages should be dealt with quickly too. The maintenance of the fireplace should be a weekly occurrence.