How Do You Maintain Your Fireplace To Make Sure It's In Working Order

As the days grow cooler, our thoughts turn to staying warm, hot chocolate, cozy sweaters, and curled up with a nice book by the fire. There are a wide variety of fireplaces to choose from. Gas, electric, and wood-burning appliances are a few of these. No matter what kind of fireplace you have, you must ensure that it is in good operating order. If not, potential problems include a chimney fire or a leak of carbon monoxide into your house. The National Fire Protection Association claims that failing to clean solid-fuel heating equipment, particularly chimneys, was the main factor contributing to home heating fires.It's important that every season, you perform some simple fireplace maintenance duties you get an expert to inspect it once a year.


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Here's a guide on maintaining your fireplace ahead of the winter season.

Gas Fireplace Maintenance Tips

A gas fireplace is simpler to maintain than a fireplace that burns wood, however it still needs to be inspected annually and can be done in an hour. The technician will clean your fireplace, ceramic log, or lava stones of dust, pet hair, and grit using a special soft bristled brush and vacuum.  


They will also check for any natural gas leak, ensure proper venting, no obstructions and no potential for carbon monoxide leaks. Homeowners can clean their gas fireplace but follow the manufacturer guidelines, including using any special cleaner for the glass.


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Electric Fireplace Maintenance Tips

The majority of electric fireplaces use LED lights, which often last ten years or more. As a result, you won't need to replace them all the time. We advise checking your electric fireplace at least once a year for dust, debris, and any problems with the electrical components.


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Wood-Burning Fireplace Maintenance Tips

Here are some maintenance tips for your wood-burning fireplace and chimney.


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#1. Keep Your Firebox Clean

The firebox is the area where the logs in your fireplace burn. I recommend that you try to clean the firebox of your fireplace once a week while it is in use. The andirons and grate should be taken outside to be cleaned and placed aside, and any loose ashes should be scooped with a fireplace shovel and disposed of in the garbage or an ash bin. 


Verify that the fire is out and the ash is cool before you dispose of it. I would let the firebox sit for 12 hours before cleaning it.


#2. Remove Buildup from Your Fireplace

Soot and creosote are produced when burning wood and creosote is extremely combustible releasing harmful gases. One of the main causes of chimney fires is from a creosote buildup. It’s the smoky substance that lines the firebox walls and the chimney's linings. Every season, it’s important to get this removed. Any soot buildup can be removed using a wire brush and scraper, followed by warm water and baking soda and a brush to finish it off. 


Using a flashlight you can inspect the walls of the chimney for creosote (black cracking flakes or shiny black deposits), then the walls of the chimney need to be cleaned before your next fire. While you are looking up make sure you don’t see any animal nests.


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#3. Hire a Professional to Clean your Chimney

Tip #1 and #2 can easily be done by a handy homeowner but I would highly recommend hiring a pro to do a yearly maintenance clean and checkups of your fireplace. The pros have the equipment and are certified professionals to inspect and make sure your fireplace is operating correctly. They can also detect serious issues like damaged chimney caps, liner fissures, damper or flue.


When buying a house with a wood-burning fireplace, you should get a WETT inspection, but you should also think about having any wood-burning appliance inspected every five years and having a chimney swept every two years (depending on how much you use the appliance), as there are many things to take into account, such as creosote buildup and maintaining the damper and flue.

#4 Fix Brickwork Around Your Fireplace

If the brickwork around your fireplace that is pitting, flaking, cracked (also known as spalling) or you have missing mortar. Fix this now, even if it’s for esthetic reasons, but you notice this on the outside of your chimney this could lead to serious issue with your chimney. 


When the temperature drops below freezing and moisture gets trapped inside and expands this could weaken your chimney. 


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#5 Check for Cracked Flue

There are several reasons why a cracked flue is extremely harmful. In the beginning, it enables heat and smoke to spread to other parts of the house. That is unsafe. Additionally, it may lead to a rapid buildup of soot, which is something we don't want.


#6 Check Your Fireplace Ash Pit

An ash pit is a hole in your firebox where you may dump old ashes. You can sweep in any ashes and embers thanks to its convenient location, and then seal them in by shutting a little door. Ash pits are made to endure the fireplace's heat yet being convenient for the homeowner. 


A thin coating of ash should always be left on the firepit floor since it encourages fires to produce more heat. I would check the ash pit once every two years or more frequently depending on how often your fireplace is used. However, if the ashes appear moist and are hard to remove, you might have a leak so get this check out. Whenever removing ash, always wear a respirator or dust mask to protect your lungs.


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Cleaning your Fireplace Mantel and Surrounds

Wooden mantels typically just need a wipe down with a dry sponge or eraser sponge but remember that soot is oily, so water won’t do much good. With any remaining soot use rubbing alcohol and for stubborn stains try a degreaser specially for wooden mantels. 


For brick and stone surrounds a gentle liquid detergent and a soft, non-wire brush are all you need to get started. Before gently scrubbing away smoke and soot stains, wet the stone. Use clean water to rinse. Your mantel may need one or two days to dry completely. 


You can also use a paste of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water to remove any heavily marked areas, but do a test area first, and always consult with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Always use rubber gloves and safety glasses when using TSP.


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Marble is very porous and requires special care and most residue should be removed with a good rub with a dry cloth, otherwise use a special cleanser for marble surfaces. The same goes for glass, if vinegar and water don’t get rid of the residue, then use a cleanser specially made for fireplace glass – do not use glass cleaner, like Windex.


No matter what kind of fireplace you have, regular maintenance and inspections are essential to enjoying them safely. Have your chimney evaluated by a certified specialist to make sure your wood burning system is in good operating order, the installation complies with building requirements, and it is SAFE to use. 


Your annual home maintenance checklist should include maintaining your fireplace, if ignored it could be a potential disaster.


Improve Canada has many different showrooms offering furnaces, fireplaces and mantels. Give us a call today to discuss your needs! (905) 677-2577





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