Four Ways To Take Great Care Of Your Wood-Burning Fireplace

Construction & Contractors Blog

Few things are as relaxing as sitting in front of a fireplace in your living room, enjoying the flicker of the flames and the faint smell of fire. But if you want your fireplace to keep providing a lovely ambiance without presenting a hazard to your family, you need to take good care of it. Here are four ways to take great care of your wood-burning fireplace.

Remove ash regularly.

After you have a fire, there will be a pile of ashes left behind in the bottom of the fireplace. It's important to remove these regularly so they don't build up, bringing your fire closer and closer to the top of the fireplace. Wait for the ashes to cool, and scoop them into a bin. Many people keep a ceramic canister, known as an ash can, next to their fireplace for this purpose. You can use the ash as a fertilizer for your garden; it's high in carbon, which plants need.

Have it inspected yearly.

There are a lot of problems that can occur with a fireplace, and many of them happen inside the chimney where you can't readily see. Creosote buildup, for instance, puts you at risk of a chimney fire. Cracks in the chimney can cause smoke damage elsewhere in your home. The best way to ensure these issues are detected early is to have a chimney cleaning company come check your system once a year. They can also remove buildup to prevent chimney fires.

Test it regularly.

Whenever it has been a while since you've had a fire, always light a few small pieces of kindling first. Watch where the smoke goes. It should travel straight up the chimney. If it does not -- and goes into the room instead -- this means there's an obstruction in the chimney. Put the fire out, and check to see whether there is a birds' nest or other item up there. Do not light a full fire until you're sure the chimney is clear.

Only burn seasoned wood.

Avoid burning wood that has not been aged for at least 6 months -- ideally a year. Wood that is younger than this is often too moist to burn well, and it will result in more soot buildup, which may eventually put you at risk for a chimney fire. 

In addition to following the tips above, make sure your home has a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in place. You can never be too safe when you have an open fire. Work with a company like Alpine Fireplaces if you have questions about updating or building a new fireplace.

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