Fire Recovery Realities

How To Maintain Your Wood-Burning Fireplace

by Matthew Fields

A wood-burning fireplace has many advantages over other types of fireplaces. You get the beautiful look and smell of logs burning in the fire, the outdoor aesthetics of a real chimney, and it is more eco-friendly than gas fireplaces. However, in order for it to keep working properly, you need to keep it cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. Here are some tips for making that happen.

Get it Cleaned Routinely

About once a year, you should hire a chimney sweep company to clean it out professionally. While you can learn to clean the chimney yourself, it is a lot of work and can get very messy. You will be better off paying another company to clean it for you. If you use your fireplace often or if you notice the creosote building up at a rapid pace in the chimney walls, you may need to get it cleaned more often than once a year.

Clean the Inside of the Fireplace

Not only does the chimney need to be cleaned, but so does the inside of the fireplace itself. Since it is easier to get to, you should be able to complete this task on your own. Make sure to clean it regularly during the cold season when the fireplace is being used the most, plus occasionally during the off-seasons, just to make sure no debris is in there when you start to use it again. You can use a broom or vacuum to remove the cold ashes from the floor of the fireplace. When cleaning it out, protect the floor outside of the fireplace, and wear gloves and a dust mask.

Inspect the Fireplace

Throughout the year, you should be inspecting your fireplace for signs of creosote build-up and soot. Creosote is the dark substance that often coats wood logs, and it can build-up when you use this type of wood for your wood-burning fireplace. It tends to be thicker than soot. Soot will be softer, but is also flammable, so make sure you clean it out of the fireplace if you notice it. There is also a cap on your chimney that keeps out squirrels, birds, and rain. It is covered in mesh and needs to be in proper working condition. If it looks to be wearing away, have it replaced.

Burn the Right Woods

There are certain woods that tend to be better for wood-burning fireplaces than others. Hardwoods like birch, ash, oak, and maple are ideal because they burn longer and hotter, but have less mess and build-up to clean afterward. Softwoods are going to give you more soot and more creosote build-up, requiring a much bigger clean-up process.

For more information on properly maintaining your fireplace and chimney, contact a company in your area, like Excel Chimney & Fireplace Service.