How to Maintain Your Fireplace
The days are getting shorter, and the winter months are almost upon us. While fireplaces are a great home feature to get nice and warm this coming season, it is important to take proper steps to ensure that things don’t go south when gathering around the fireplace this winter to keep warm.
According to HETAS, the UK had over 4,000 chimney fires between April 2015 and March 2016. The government-recognised regulator for biomass and solid fuel domestic heating appliances, fuels, and services shares that nearly 200 Britons have died from fires in the home, with approximately 50 percent of chimney fires occurring between the months of January and March.
It is important to remember that these tragic accidents are often very preventable. Therefore, it is the necessary to undertake some fireplace maintenance steps in addition to the home maintenance checks we discussed in a previous blog post here on Property Detective. This not only increases your fireplace’s longevity, but it also ensures that you, your family, and your home are safe from fires during the winter months. Here are some things you can do to maintain your fireplace and help it do its job this season.
Keep it clean
One simple step to ensure safety and maintain your fireplace is to move flammable things away from both the chimney and the fireplace. Remove paper or debris that might be on or in front of the hearth to avoid accidental burning.
Moreover, if your fireplace does not have a glass door, it might be a good idea to install a wire mesh screen to keep things away from the flame. Wire mesh is also good for capping your chimney to keep out rain, snow, and birds that might have made nests on your roof. Make sure that the area near your chimney is also clear, with tree branches and leaves at a safe distance of at least 15 feet away.
Simple cleaning can also go a long way in fireplace maintenance, reports the Petoskey News-Review. Using a flat fireplace shovel, clean out the ashes and dirt that have built up over time on the hearth and inside the firebox. Afterwards, you can use a vacuum to clear out any remaining ash or dry debris. Place the ash in a bucket for disposal or add them into your compost pile.
If you have a wood fireplace, it is good practice to burn only clean, seasoned wood to lessen smoke and buildup of harmful gas and soot. On the other hand, the more contemporary units similar to the gas fireplaces listed on Screwfix would need regular checks in terms of their external vents for clogs or vegetation to make sure they’re safe for use.
Get a professional
Most of the dirty work on fireplaces is best left to trained experts and their equipment. The UK’s National Association of Chimney Sweeps recommends annual cleaning for oil, gas, and smokeless fuel fireplaces, and quarterly sweeping for wood and bituminous coal fireplaces.
Professional chimneysweepers can clear out stubborn soot and heat stains from fireplaces and chimneys. On the other hand, certified safety officers can inspect your fireplace or woodstove, chimney, and venting systems for leaks and other issues.
Lastly, the importance of remaining vigilant cannot be over emphasised. Keep an eye out on your fireplace to monitor any soot or creosote buildup so you can quickly remove fire hazards and minimize risk. Make sure that your fire alarm system is working and that the detectors are not damaged.
If you’re using a wood fireplace, watch out for any excess smoke, which is a sign of a bad fire or incomplete combustion. If your fireplace is smoking, your flue might not be working properly or has too much creosote buildup. For gas fireplaces, be careful with any unusual odors or fumes coming out of the fireplace. If you smell any natural gas seeping out of your unit, call a professional immediately.
Do you have any other tips for fireplace maintenance? Share them with us in the comments below.