Fireplace Maintenance – Effective Tips for Maintaining and Cleaning a Fireplace

fireplace maintenance

Winter is here, and a warm cozy place is a must. On chilly days, fireplaces are the favorite amenities that most people want in their homes. They add comforts and warmth and give an extra touch to the architectural vitality of your house both inside and out. Fireplaces render a wide range of benefits but also require regular maintenance. Here is an article with fireplace maintenance tips to help you manage a safe and warm fireplace. 

No other heating equipment can offer a kind of cozy and warm place like a wood-burning fireplace. They offer a cheerful place to sit with family and friends around crackling flames. You can enjoy a wide range of indoor activities around them. However, if you do not manage fireplaces properly, they can lead to treacherous accidents. In order to help you ensure that the fireplace is safe to use, we have rounded up tips on fireplace maintenance.

Fireplace Maintenance Tips

Fireplaces are an amazing source of warmth and heat, but they can also be dangerous. Heating and cooling equipment is one of the major causes of housefires. In fact, chimneys and chimney connectors hold the largest share of home heating fires (Source). However, proper fireplace maintenance can help you prevent danger. 

Below mentioned are some tips for wood fireplace maintenance that can help you manage a safe and clean fireplace. 

Fix the Gaps Present in Firebox Brick and Mortar

Gaps develop over time in the brick mortar that is present inside the fireplace. Constant contraction and expansion of the materials are caused due to the extreme heat in the fireplace. It is obvious that the bits of mortar present on the refractory fire bricks will fall due to loosening. 

Fire can easily find the path through gaps and can burn the structural elements of the house. 

Therefore, it is essential to fix the mortar gaps that are present inside the fireplaces’ firebox. Make sure to use refractory caulk or fireplace mortar. It is a mineral-based filler that is used to fill the gaps.

In order to fix the gaps, you would need a putty knife to clean the loose mortar. Moreover, you will also need a can of compressed air so that you can remove the rest. After that, all you need to do is caulk the joints. 

Clean the Chimney

Now you must be thinking about how to clean a wood-burning fireplace? Unlike gel and gas-powered fireplaces, wood-burning fireplaces produce a lot of heat and smoke. Many times, creostate cakes up in the chimney, and it can accelerate the fire, which can lead to fatal accidents. 

Chimney cleaning helps in getting rid of potentially hazardous creosote and flammable debris. Make sure to clean the chimney from top to bottom. Moreover, also clean the ashes present in the firebox. It would be better to purchase your own chimney cleaning tools and clean the fireplace yourself. It is one of the best ways for wood burning fireplace maintenance. 

Repair the Flashing

Metal flashing present between the roof and chimney helps to render protection against the water that comes into your home. Flashing can be damaged from falling limbs. In fact, pesky squirrels or pesky birds can also damage the flashing. So, make sure to inspect your roof flashing and repair it if needed. 

Purchase the Right Firewood

It is essential to burn the right wood in the chimney. Burning the wrong wood can make the chimney dirty dirties and can cause an increase in the need for frequent cleaning. Although softwoods are less expensive as compared to hardwoods, they burn faster and leave ash, which can be difficult to clean up. Moreover, they can lead to the development of creosote faster. Different softwoods include cedar, balsam, and poplar. Instead, opt for hardwood like ash, birch, oak, and maple for a hotter and consistent burn.  

Fix the Outerside of Brick Chimney

If you find any damage in the external part of the chimney, make sure to fix it. All you need to fix the fireplace is an extension ladder and some simple masonry tools. Using the tools, you can repoint any patch cracks, missing brick and mortar and replace or repair the bricks. Use a caulking gun to caulk around the crown and flue. 

Clean the Bricks

If you are deep cleaning your house, then cleaning the chimney and its bricks are an essential part of house cleaning tips. No matter how clean and airtight the screen of your fireplace appears to be. Smoke gets out of the firebox. Therefore, it is always a good idea to clean the fireplace bricks. Below mentioned are some mild, moderate, and strong cleaning tips to clean the bricks. 

  • Mild – Mix warm water with dishwashing detergent as it is an amazing grease cutter. Scrub it with the table salt to provide a mild abrasive. 
  • Moderate – Mix dishwashing detergent, pumice, and ammonia to raise the cleaning game. Ammonia is an effective grease cutter, and pumice acts as an abrasive. 
  • Strong – Mix hot water with tri-sodium phosphate to clean thickly blackened chimney bricks. It is the best solution to the question of how to clean a wood-burning fireplace. 

Replace the Screen of Fireplace

If you want to keep your house clean and looking for hacks to keep the space shine forever, then prevent the burning ashes and embers from leaving the firebox. It will not only keep the space clean but will also keep you safe. 

In case you are having trouble with sparks or members coming to your living area, then you might need a new fireplace screen. In case you are looking for a fresh change, then also you can replace the fireplace screen. These screens come in a wide range of metals and styles. 

Fireplace screens can help you prevent the smoke from leaving the firebox. These screens have heat-proof glass, which holds back the smoke but allows the heat to pass into the home to keep your place warm.

Repair or Build the Mantel

In case the mantel in your fireplace is old, it might be the time to replace it. You can make a new fireplace mantle using a walnut stock or live-edge wood. In case you want an entirely new look, then you can consider redecorating the mantle. 

Store the Firewoods Appropriately

Make sure to store the firewoods at a dry place. Keep them in a rack to make sure that they do not get wet. Moreover, keep the woods away from insects and vermin as they can get transported in the house through the woods. If your firewood becomes wet, it will become difficult to light them. Moreover, burning damp wood can cause more smoke and make your fireplace dirty. 

Hire Professional to Fix the Fireplace

In case you are facing troubles with the chimney, then you can hire a professional to fix your fireplace. In case you think that you can not fix the fireplace, then it is always a good idea to take help from professionals. 

Minor external defects can be worsened by the outside elements and can lead to major issues. Damp attic insulation, mushy drywall, and wet ceiling can lead to serious interior issues. They can be caused by poorly maintained flashing and chimney. Therefore, it is essential to follow proper steps for wood burning fireplace maintenance. 

Tips for Managing a Well-Maintained Fireplace

Below mentioned are some tips that you can follow to manage a well-maintained fireplace. 

  • Install carbon monoxide and smoke alarms. Make sure to keep them in good condition to keep them working properly.
  • Keep combustible materials like drapes, furniture, and carpets away from the fireplace. You can also install a guard in front of the fireplace. It will help you to keep the pets and children from harm. 
  • Get your wood-burning fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional at least once a year. It would be better to get it inspected at the end or beginning of the wood-burning season
  • Test the functioning of your fireplace by lighting some pieces of seasoned wood. Lit it from top to bottom. In case the smoke enters the house instead of exiting vertically, troubleshoot immediately and correct the error. 
  • Burn seasoned woods and not the green woods. It is better to use the seasoned woods that are cut and dried for at least 6-12 months. Moreover, use split wood dries as they burn better than the whole pieces. Greenwoods will not burn properly and will also create creosote and soot. 
  • Do not use softwoods. Instead, use hardwoods like ash and maple. They are heavier and denser and deliver more heat. 

Final Words

Having a fireplace provides warmth during chilly days and adds an appeal to the house. However, it is highly essential to follow proper fireplace maintenance tips to keep the fireplace well maintained and working properly. Moreover, proper maintenance of a wood-burning fireplace also helps to avoid the risk of accidents.