It’s August. The temperature today is probably going to break 90 degrees. But Fall is just around the corner and with it will come cool days and crisp nights. You will be lighting your fireplace for the first time of the season. There is nothing that makes a home seem more welcoming than a roaring fire. It is important that you be sure your fireplace is clean before striking the first match.
If you left ashes in the firebox at the end of last winter then shovel them out. It will keep the ashes from blowing around the living room if you sprinkle some coffee grounds on them before you start shoveling. You can either discard the ashes or distribute them around your garden. Take the opportunity of an empty fireplace to remove the andirons and clean them up.
It is likely that you will have some creosote on the inside of your glass doors. Creosote is created when wood burns. It is sticky and can be difficult to remove. Save a bit of the ash residue and use balled up newspaper. Wet the newspaper, dip it into the ash and use it to scour the glass doors. Use a circular motion and discard the newspaper balls as they start to shred. Once you feel that the glass is clean, wipe off the residue with paper towels.
Routine Fireplace Maintenance
Some ash in the bottom of your fireplace will provide a nice bed for building a fire. You should clean out excess ashes after every couple of fires. Be certain that the ashes are cool and there are no live embers. Wait a minimum of 12 hours after the fire goes out before emptying the ashes. If you have a trap door in the floor of the fireplace, you can just shovel the ashes into the opening. Otherwise, collect the ashes in a metal bucket. Always use well seasoned hardwood to burn. Soft woods like pine do not burn well.
Before you light up your fireplace for the first time this Fall, consider hiring a chimney sweep to be sure there are no obstructions in your chimney. The sweep will also clean out any creosote build up.
Your chimney should have a cap on top to keep birds and other critters from getting in. There is nothing more disconcerting than discovering there is a bird trapped inside your fireplace!
If you have a gas fireplace there is very little maintenance that you need to do. As a matter of fact, you are better off having a gas fireplace specialist visit annually to take care of the system. He will be sure the gas line is in good repair and will remove and clean the ceramic logs as well as the entire firebox.
Remember that safety when using fire inside your home is of the utmost importance. You must make sure that your equipment is in good repair. If you have any questions, the Chimney Safety Institute of America is a great resource.
Wouldn’t it be nice to spend your weekend with a roaring fire in your newly cleaned fireplace? Call Custom Maid at 499-8568 for weekly or bi-weekly housecleaning so you can relax.
Editor’s Note: We originally published this article in August 2016. We have edited it for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.