One of the many benefits of living in Texas is that the climate doesn’t often require a homeowner to blaze up the fireplace to keep warm. Since a Texan doesn’t usually spend a great deal of time curled up on the hearth, maintenance and clean-up between professional cleanings and inspections can seem intimidating.
But if you follow some simple maintenance guidelines, making sure you have an enjoyable and safe fireplace experience can be as easy as following these steps:
Use a chimney cap
A chimney cap is a covering at the top of your chimney, usually made out of stainless steel or copper, that includes mesh. A chimney cap is an inexpensive prevention measure that has a variety of functions.
For one, it keeps debris, leaves and animals from entering your chimney. A chimney cap also can prevent rain and water from getting into your chimney, both of which can cause serious damage to your home.
Check the Damper Before Lighting a Fire
A fireplace damper, usually located just above the firebox, is designed to keep your fireplace sealed when it is not in use. According to The Family Handyman, checking to make sure the damper is free of debris so it can open and shut is a critical step in fireplace maintenance.
Clean Out the Ashes
Before your first fire of the season, it’s important to make sure your firebox is clean of ashes.
According to the DIY Network, you’ll know it’s time to clear the ashes when they reach the grate. You can do this by simply sweeping or vacuuming the ashes out.
However, before you dispose of them, make sure the ashes you clean out are cold—some coals can stay hot for up to three days. It’s recommended that you don’t clean until it sparkles, though. About an inch of ash in the fireplace actually will make it easier for you to light that next fire and keep it burning.
When cleaning your ashes, safety first! Wear a mask and eye protectors to make sure the ashes don’t harm you in any way.
Be Picky About Your Wood
When it comes to building a fire that is going to be safe and enjoyable, not all wood is created equally.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, stick to denser woods like oak, ash and maple. Make sure your wood is split and stored in a high, dry location.
Make sure it’s stored for a good six months prior to burning to make sure you have a good season on the wood.
Use the Professional Chimney Cleaners
While there is a lot you can do for regular maintenance of your fireplace, it’s also essential that you call the professionals at The Chimney Sweep in at least once a year for chimney sweeping and inspection.
A certified chimney sweep will start by making sure your chimney is free of cracks or other issues in its structural integrity. Then they will do a thorough cleaning, making sure your chimney is free of soot and creosote, byproducts of the burning wood. A build-up of either of these things can potentially catch fire and destroy not only your chimney but your home.
It’s recommended that you get this maintenance done before a hot Texas summer. According to the DIY Network, humidity can combine with creosote to create ashes that can destroy the masonry of your fireplace and cause strong odors in your home.
For almost 40 years, The Chimney Sweep has been a trusted name in professional chimney maintenance in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Our highly skilled technicians perform a variety of services, from safety inspections and chimney cleaning to animal removal and chimney cap installation.
Call us today to speak to one of our technicians about how we can help you keep your fireplace safe and enjoyable while you keep the home fires burning.