Whether you’re roasting chestnuts on an open fire or setting the scene for a cozy winter’s night, properly maintaining your fireplace is a great way to enjoy a safe and enjoyable time around your hearth. This month, we are sharing some important safety and maintenance tips to get your fireplace ready for winter along with the best ways to get the fire burning.
Before you strike a match, it’s important to take some preliminary measures to ensure your fireplace is ready for the season.
- Experts agree to make sure your chimney damper is free of any blockages. Hiring a professional is the best way to have peace of mind in knowing that your fireplace will be operating efficiently and safely.
- Remove any ashes and debris from the firebox. Some experts say leaving an inch of ashes on the bottom of the firebox can act like insulation and help the coals heat faster and retain heat.
- It’s recommended to not let a fire burn for more than five hours.
- Never leave children home alone with a fire burning.
- Opening a window will help the room from becoming smoky.
Following some quick and easy maintenance tips can help you prepare your home for months of enjoyment in front of your fireplace.
- For perfect viewing, clean the glass doors of any smoke or heat stains by scraping them with a razor blade when the doors are cool. Then, use a fireplace glass cleaner to wipe the glass clean and dry with a lint-free cloth or newspaper. A simple solution of vinegar and warm water or dishwashing liquid works just as well.
- The use of manufactured logs, clean seasoned wood and non-glossy white paper are great ways to burn clean fires in your fireplace and help to keep maintenance at a minimum while reducing hazardous smoke.
- Check the adjustments on your dampers or air inlets to make sure the smoke coming out of your chimney is not dark and smoky. This may indicate your fire wasn’t lit properly or is burning incorrectly. A properly lit fire should emit a thin stream of white steam.
- Protect your floors or carpeting by placing a non-flammable rug in front of your fireplace. You never know when a rogue spark may fly out and possibly damage your floor or carpeting.
- Set the scene around your hearth with beautifully polished fireplace tools by cleaning them with Worcestershire sauce and a toothbrush. (Who knew?)
Getting the Fire Started
Lighting the first fire of the season can be a momentous event. Here are some important steps to take for building the perfect fire:
- When it comes to starting a fire, kindling is said to be the cleanest and most efficient material to use in your fireplace. Burning resinous wood such as pine or evergreen can cause flare-ups which might leave creosote (a flammable, gummy deposit) in your flue.
- After you have opened the glass doors and pulled the screen curtains open, place the kindling inside and open the damper and a window in the room. (The window only should be open a few inches.) Experts suggest to avoid using magazines or newspapers, as some of these can emit toxic smoke (due to the various types of inks used in the printing process) and might send burning ashes up the flue, which could possibly ignite a fire on your roof.
- Flammable liquids such as gasoline or lighter fluid should never be used to light or rekindle a fire since they can cause explosions, serious injury or even death.
- Once your fire is burning, be sure to keep the glass doors open to allow the air to cool your chimney. It’s important to keep the screen curtains closed, however, to prevent any sparks from landing on your carpeting or flooring.
- Always use fireplace tools – never your hands – to handle burning logs.
After the Fire
- Keep the damper open and take caution when it’s time to remove ashes, since coals can remain hot for up to three days after the fire has burned out.
- When it’s safe, close the damper, put on a dust mask, and open a window in the same room as the fireplace. (This will help prevent negative air pressure.) You can now remove the ashes and place them in a metal container. You must then store the container far away from any combustible materials or surfaces (including wooden floors).
We hope you have found these fireplace safety and maintenance tips helpful. For more information on Granite Transformations, or to schedule a free in-home consultation, please visit us at www.granitetransformations.com.