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Wood Burning Fireplace Maintenance Tips

Posted on January 23, 2015

When the nights are cool, a nice roaring fire can create just the right atmosphere for your winter gathering or for a night on the couch with the television remote control. Regardless of the occasion, it is important to maintain your fireplace so that it will be ready for such occasions.

Fireplace Maintenance:

  • Safety first. Hire a chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney at least once a year.
  • Don’t forget to open the damper before building and starting your fire.
  • While burning the fire, keep the glass doors open and the fireplace screen drawn to keep sparks from jumping onto the floor covering. Keep a nonflammable rug in front of the fireplace for those sparks that do escape.
  • Never leave a fire unattended. Watch to make sure children are not playing with the fire or fire tools.
  • Dispose of the ashes from the fireplace using as ash bucket or an ash vacuum cleaner. Never use a regular vacuum cleaner. Make sure that the ashes are cool before removing them. Depending on how often you dispose of the ashes, they can remain hot from live coals for up to three days after the last fire, but usually are extinguished in 12 hours. Leave an inch of ash to all coals to allow the next fire to heat faster.
  • Don’t use water to extinguish a fire as the ashes will turn to a paste that is difficult to remove.
  • Don’t use abrasive cleaners inside the fireplace that are not intended for fireplaces as they may leave a residue that is flammable.
  • Scrape deposits off the glass doors using a razor blade. Use dish washing detergent or vinegar in warm water to clean the glass.
  • Clean brick hearths with a cleaner from a fireplace shop. Slate hearths can be washed and coated with lemon oil every 4-6 weeks during the fire burning season.

What should you burn in your fireplace?

  • Dry wood burns better than wet wood and causes less smoke. Dry wood also makes the fire easier to start. Ideally, it is best to burn seasoned wood that is at least 6-12 months past splitting.
  • Hardwoods, like oak and birch, are better to burn than softwoods, like pine, because they create less creosote buildup. Also, hardwoods burn hotter and longer.
  • Store your wood up off the ground away from your house. The best location is one where the wood stack will be well-ventilated.
  • Never burn painted wood, pressure-treated wood, plywood, particle board, glossy paper, colored paper, charcoal, garbage, plastic or rubber in your wood burning fireplace. These items can produce toxic fumes that are a danger to your health as well as clogging the flue in your chimney.

Follow these guidelines for a season of enjoyable fires in your fireplace. Always remember to make safety a priority for all members of your family.

 

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