It’s summer in the Tennessee Valley, a time for backyard barbecues, swimming at the lake, and enjoying the great outdoors. Since the fireplace doesn’t get much use during the warm summer months, many homeowners often ask if they need to close the fireplace. The short answer is “yes”, as it will provide protection from the humidity, summer rains, and mold that can damage the chimney and fireplace. It will also keep out pests and debris that can cause foul odors in your home. However, there are few maintenance tasks that should be done when closing your wood-burning or gas fireplace for the summer.
If you have a gas fireplace, it’s a good idea to turn off the gas and pilot light when closing the fireplace for the summer. It will conserve energy and prevent sulfur build-up that can clog the burner. If you’re having trouble locating the pilot knob or gas shutoff valve, contact A-1 Chimney Specialists or your local hearth dealer for assistance.
Make sure the fireplace has been cooling for at least 24 hours before cleaning the fireplace. First, remove any unused wood logs and the grate. You will want to put the grate on some newspaper and take it outside for scrubbing so that the soot and creosote don’t stain your flooring. Next, carefully scoop the ashes into a metal container. You can recycle the ashes in your garden but reserve a small amount of ash (about a one-inch layer) to help start your first fire of the winter season. Then, vacuum any remaining debris in the firebox.
Gas fireplace owners should carefully inspect the ceramic log set for signs of excessive wear or damage. Damaged or deteriorating ceramic logs need to be replaced. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for carefully cleaning the ceramic logs to remove any soot or dust build-up. Excessive soot can indicate an issue with the ignition system or burner and should be inspected regularly by a professional chimney sweep.
The damper is a metal or iron device that regulates airflow in the chimney. Since the damper must remain open while you have a fire burning in the fireplace so that smoke, carbon monoxide, and other gases can escape your home, many homeowners forget to close it when the fire burns out.
Throat damper: Most masonry chimneys have a throat damper that is just above the firebox. Close the damper by lifting and pulling the lever or handle until it is shut completely. Some dampers use a rotary screw-type rod. Turn the rod to close the damper.
Top-mount damper: Some chimneys have a top-mount damper that is installed on the top of the chimney. For his type, pull on the chain or cable in the firebox to close the damper.
Make sure the damper has an airtight seal when shut. Otherwise, the warm outside air will leak through the gaps and mix with the cooler indoor air, increasing energy costs. Water will also leak into the chimney and damage the firebox. If you have difficulty operating the damper, schedule a visit with your chimney sweep.
It is also vital to have a CSIA-certified chimney sweep conduct an annual chimney inspection to check the entire chimney system, including vents, connections, and attached heating appliances for creosote, obstructions, water leaks, and other damage that can affect safety and performance. Gas fireplaces also need to be inspected annually to check the ignition system, burner, ceramic log set, and other components for signs of wear, leaks, or damage. If any repairs or replacements are necessary, getting them done in the summer means your gas or wood-burning fireplace will be ready when colder weather arrives.
After inspecting the chimney, the chimney sweep will also clean the chimney, fireplace, and heating stove when necessary to remove creosote, soot, debris, corrosive residues, and any flue obstructions to reduce the risk of fire and exposure to carbon monoxide gas. Contact A-1 Chimney Specialist to schedule your annual chimney inspection and cleaning. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy your summer!