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The Ultimate Guide to Maintaining Your Wood Burning Fireplace

fireplace inspection and fix

If you are like many other people, when cold weather arrives, you look forward to sitting next to a roaring fire in your home’s wood burning fireplace. However, if you aren’t careful, this fun activity may wind up being disastrous. The fact is, a wood burning fireplace may become a safety risk rather quickly if it isn’t maintained properly and regularly.

If you use your fireplace and it hasn’t been properly maintained, it will increase the possibility that you, or someone you love, may lose everything because of a house fire, or even pass away due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you want to remain safe, and enjoy a fire, you must take the proper steps. Here you can learn what needs to be done to ensure your wood burning fireplace can be enjoyed safely.

Clean the Old Ashes Out of Your Fireplace

When removing ashes, make sure to be careful. Hot embers can continue burning even hours after the fire is out. A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 24 hours before removing the ashes from your fireplace. Rather than tossing them outside, or in the trash immediately, move them into a fire-resistant metal ash bucket. Put a lid on the bucket and let them sit for three days prior to throwing them out. It is fine to leave about an inch of ash in a fireplace, but no more.

Be sure Your Chimney has a Chase or Chimney Cover

These covers help prevent lawn debris, animals and water from getting into your chimney and causing problems. Water in the chimney can cause all types of damage, from deterioration to the bricks and mortar and damper corrosion. Additionally, lawn debris and animals may obstruct your chimney, making it difficult for the smoke to escape and resulting in a fire hazard. The best solution for these issues is a chimney cover.

Covers are designed with mesh along the side, which prevents sticks, leaves critters and other items from making their way into the chimney. The metal top also allows snow or water to slid off onto the roof, rather than go into the chimney.

Check the Damper Regularly to Ensure it is Working

The damper is the vent inside of your chimney that you have to open to let air in when a fire is going, and closed to keep drafts away when the fire is out. If your damper won’t open, you should avoid use the fireplace until it is repaired or replaced. If your damper is stuck, then smoke and carbon monoxide won’t have anywhere to go but back inside your home.

Only Burn Seasoned Wood

Season wood has been cut down and allowed to dry out for a period of at least six months. You only need to burn seasoned wood, because wood that is greener or that is damp won’t burn as well and it will cause more creosote. You can determine if wood is too green to burn if you hit it against another piece of wood and you hear a dull thud, rather than a sharp crack.

Keep in mind, while the tips here will help you keep your fireplace and chimney in good, safe operating condition, you should also call the professionals from time to time to inspect your fireplace and chimney. They will be able to find any issues you may have missed and ensure you can burn a fire safely.