It’s that time of year where we like to cozy up by the fireplace. But doing so causes much-needed attention to maintenance and safety. Here are a few tips to be sure your fireplace stays clean and safe.
Check it for safety. Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the chimney when necessary. The chimney should be checked annually, or after you’ve had 80 or so fires.
Get started. Before making a fire, be sure to open glass doors (if you have them) and open the damper. If you’re not sure if your flue is open, you can check to make sure the smoke will go up the chimney properly by lighting a match, quickly blowing it out and watching the smoke to be certain it is going up and out of the chimney.
Open the doors. To be sure the airflow is pulling the air through the chimney, keep the glass open. Do keep the screen closed to prevent sparks from jumping onto your floor.
Use common sense. It seems obvious, but don’t let children be in the room unattended when burning a fire. Use fireplace tools to handle the hot logs. Be sure to let the coals and ash cool fully (even up to three days) before removing them from the fireplace. Never use a vacuum to clean up ashes, because live coals may remain in those ashes.
Keep debris out of the chimney. Use a chimney cap to prevent water damage and debris from blocking the chimney. This also prevents animals and birds from nesting in the chimney.
Maintain the firebox. Clean the firebox weekly during months of use. Leave about an inch of ash to act as insulation, which will allow the coals to heat and retain the heat more quickly.
Clean the hearth. To keep a slate hearth clean and shiny, you can wash, dry and coat it with lemon oil every six weeks. For cleaning exterior brick hearths, buy a brick cleaner at a fireplace shop.
Keep warm and stay safe!