Uncle Bobs Tips

Fireplace Maintenance

Fireplace Maintenance

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Now that you have the fireplace you've always wanted, learn how to do easy fireplace maintenance so you can spend less time maintaining and more time enjoying. Here are some fireplace design ideas if you haven't decided on one yet.

Owning a fireplace means quiet romantic evenings curled up on the couch with someone you love, spending memorable moments with young children basking in the glow of the crackling embers, and generally enjoying the class and beauty you've always wanted with family and friends. A fireplace also means doing fireplace maintenance. While most will agree that a professional crew is your best bet, there are several things that you can do on your own to ensure that your fireplace runs efficiently and lives a long productive life.

Remember that your fireplace is not a wood burning stove or a furnace, and shouldn't be treated as one. Fireplaces are meant for short-term fires, five or six hours maximum.

Always keep a sufficient air supply flowing to cool the chimney as the fire burns. That includes the damper and the glass doors (unless you have ventilated safety doors). Keeping a window open, even just a crack, is also a good source of air and easy fireplace maintenance.

The best way to care for your fireplace is to have a chimney cap and spark arrester properly installed. If not, you run the risk of sustaining sever damages due to animals and weather conditions, as well as major safety hazards such as roof fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Periodically, check that the mortar in masonry chimneys in tact using a flashlight to light up the chimney. This is something that should be replaced immediately if not in proper condition.

Creosote is a fireplace owner's worst enemy. This dark oily substance is incredibly flammable, and is produced during wood combustion. Clean away creosote deposits regularly to avoid dangerous chimney fires. A properly burning fire produces less creosote than a less maintained one.

Chimney and fireplace maintenance sets including cleaning agents for creosotes, non-flammable high intensity paint, and liner repair materials are available to help keep fireplace maintenance quick and easy.

Keep glass doors clean using window cleaning sprays, and wipe clean with a newspaper to avoid streaks. Brass pieces can be gently polished with non-abrasive substances (some swear by Worcestershire sauce), and coated with olive oil to retard tarnishing. Never use ammonia on brass as it eats away at the metal.

Empty ashes every few days during prime time, but leave a small bed of ash in the hearth. This acts as a natural insulator for the fresh burning embers, creating more heat faster.

Fireplace maintenance is easy, and keeps your home warm and safe. As we said before, it's best to let the professionals do their job. Though you can do the day-to-day upkeep, at least twice a year, at the beginning and end of the season, a crew should be brought in periodically to do a thorough cleaning and inspection.

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