A fireplace is a feature that many people look for when shopping for a home because it can add such ambiance to a winter night. However, many homeowners do not know how to properly maintain that fireplace once they move in. No matter how often or how little they use their fireplace, every homeowner should know how to take proper care of it so that they can rest assured that their family is not in any danger.
The most important part of fireplace maintenance is making sure that it is kept clean – both by a certified sweep, as well as ongoing maintenance. Those who use the fireplace on a regular basis should be sure to sweep the ash out at least once a week. However, it is recommended to leave about an inch of ash in the fireplace as insulation during the season during which it is used. When the fireplace is ready to be shut down for the season, make sure that it is completely clear of all dirt and ash.
A proper fireplace maintenance kit will include a brush or broom that can be used to sweep out the firebox. It is important to note that, although it may seem easier, a vacuum should never be used for this particular cleaning job. They may not look like it, but pieces of wood and coal left behind in the fireplace can remain extremely hot for a number of days. If they are sucked up by the vacuum, they can quickly ignite and start a dangerous blaze.
Another important part of caring for a fireplace is using it properly. This means only burning appropriate material to make a fire. Seasoned firewood and treated coal are perfectly acceptable, but it is important to avoid too much paper as well as any amount of plastic. These materials will burn too hot and too fast, which can pose a danger to the home and everyone in it. The fireplace should never be used as a means of disposing of unwanted material.
Small, hot fires are perfectly safe in a fireplace but larger, smoldering fires can start trouble. For one thing, they are much more likely to create creosote. Creosote is a chemical compound left behind after treated material is burned in the fireplace. It is highly flammable and has been linked to many dangerous chimney and house fires. In addition, it poses serious health and safety risks to anyone who comes into contact with it. A small, hot fire will provide the desired warmth without becoming dangerously unmanageable.
It is also necessary for the fireplace to be inspected by a professional inspector every year. They will be able to identify any hazards that exist within the fireplace and chimney as well as any that are likely to occur in the near future. The Chimney Safety Institute of America is a great resource for chimney inspection and can provide a list of licensed inspectors in any area. This should be done on an annual basis, even for families that do not often use their fireplace. There are many other factors that can contribute to a damaged chimney other than use.
Having a fireplace and chimney is a great feature in any home but it must be properly maintained and safely used. Be sure to clean the fireplace regularly and to only burn material that is intended for the fireplace. An annual inspection is the best way to make sure that all current and future issues are being handled as efficiently as possible.