As the days get warmer and longer, there will be less need for your indoor fireplace. If you’re looking to do some spring cleaning in the next few months, your fireplace should be on the list.
But where do you start and what can you do on your own and when do you need a professional? In today’s blog, the experts at Top Quality Building Products will guide you through fireplace maintenance best practices.
The Types of Fireplace
There are two types of fireplaces – wood burning and gas. Both have their assets and drawbacks. Regardless of which, regular inspections and maintenance is a must to not only keep them in top working condition, but also for the safety of your home and family.
Wood Burning. If you have a wood-burning fireplace and you had the opportunity to use it on many nights last winter, chances are you have quite a bit of creosote buildup. Creosote is the residue left behind when wood is burned, made up mainly of tar. Traces of this can be found in the smoke that rises from open flames and travels upward, mixing with water and cold air near the top.
When this mixing happens, creosote solidifies and sticks to the chimney liner. The coating will continue to happen every time you start a fire. The more fires, the thicker the wall of creosote. If you burn any paper or other material, it can float up the chimney and become stuck in the creosote, waiting to combust at a later date. This is called a ‘flue fire’ and can be extremely damaging and even deadly. This is where the chimney needs to be swept to remove the creosote.
Gas Burning. The biggest concern associated with gas burning fireplaces is leakage. If there is a gas leak in the home, it can be deadly. The fumes can cause fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. If you think there might be a leak in any of your appliances that use gas, call a professional immediately. They will not only be able to detect a leak, but also know how to fix it in the best possible way.
Regular Inspections and Cleaning
Because fireplace inspections, for both fire and gas, can be technical and require special equipment, we recommend always hiring a trained technician who is well-versed in cleaning and maintenance to perform these tasks.
Here are some things those professionals will do.
- Get on the roof and check the chimney for loose bricks, cracks or missing mortar and seal as needed
- Remove any obstruction on or near the top, including bird’s nests, limbs, dried leaves and branches. All of these can block the air flow and act as prime kindling the next time you light a fire on a cold night.
- Ensure that the flue liners, dampers, mesh screen and chimney cap are in good shape and working suitably.
- Thoroughly clean the firebox, clear any debris, and open the damper before cleaning the soot.
- Inspect the exterior for any leaks. This will be around the actual insert where the insert meets the stone or brick. Make sure you can’t feel any drafts.
- Vacuum the inside of the fireplace. Take out the logs and vacuum the inside, removing any dust, debris, insects or spider webs. Any of these can catch on fire, creating potential damage to the fireplace and your home.
- Check the logs. If they are getting old and cracked, they may need to be replaced. This is an easy and quick way to upkeep the fireplace and it keeps it looking new and beautiful.
- Ensure the vents are unobstructed and able to flow freely – this means removing the vent and cleaning the cover as well as the opening that it had covered. Vacuum all dust, dirt and spiderwebs from the vents. This will keep air flowing freely and reduce the risk of blockage which can make your unit work harder than it should, resulting in breakdown or poor quality heat.
- Check the glass for cracks. Glass doors have gasket seals that should be airtight. If they aren’t, seal them with a gasket cement or silicone caulk. Always clean your glass with a non-ammonia cleaning product like vinegar. Inspect for loose or cracked glass panes. If they can’t be sealed, they will need to be replaced in order to keep gas fumes out of your home.
- Check the ignition. When you have removed the logs, click the ignition switch and make sure it lights correctly. When you’re sure of this, then turn off and clean the valves and ports by using a cloth and piece of steel wool to remove any debris and build up .
- Check for leaks. If there’s a leak, you may be able to smell it, but that’s not always the case. To be sure, brush some water mixed with dish soap onto the lines, valves and ports. If it bubbles, then you know you have a leak. If this happens, call a technician immediately. If it doesn’t, you should be fine to proceed.
Regular maintenance of your fireplace will extend their life and the days you can enjoy them safely and peacefully. Even though you can do these chores yourself, it’s best to hire a professional.