When you own a home with a fireplace, you have several important responsibilities to ensure the safety of your family. One of the most essential ones is knowing how to properly maintain your chimney and fireplace system so that it will function efficiently and safely throughout the coldest parts of the year. Since 1986, Ace Chimney Sweeps has been providing superior professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation services to the Chesapeake Bay region. We enjoy teaching our customers the best practices to use to keep their chimney and fireplace systems in the best condition possible. We would like to take an opportunity to share with you several fireplace maintenance tips that you can use to keep your chimney and fireplace operating as effectively as possible.

Lighting the FireProper Home Fireplace Maintenance - Elkton MD - Ace Chimney

In order to get the most enjoyment out of your fireplace, it is important to follow a few guidelines when you are lighting the fire. You want to make sure that the damper has been opened completely so that smoke, gases, and other combustion byproducts will be able to exhaust through the chimney. If your chimney has an exterior wall, you may want to warm up the flue by lighting the end of a rolled-up newspaper and holding it up the chimney through the damper for about five minutes. This will help your chimney to draft properly as well as make it easier to get the fire started.

For longer-lasting, cleaner-burning, safer fires, we suggest that you only use seasoned firewood. This type of wood has been allowed to dry for at least six months after it has been cut. If you do not have the option to cut and season your own wood, you can buy seasoned firewood from trusted local firewood dealers. Properly seasoned firewood is relatively lightweight and has darkened ends with visible splits and cracks. Once you have your seasoned firewood, you need to store it off of the ground on pallets or concrete blocks. This keeps it from absorbing moisture from the ground. You can leave it uncovered so that the sun can continue to dry it, but you should have a tarp handy to place over your wood whenever it rains or snows. Make sure that the sides are uncovered so that air can circulate properly.

Cleaning the Fireplace

When you have a wood-burning fireplace, you do have to take care of a few maintenance chores on a regular basis to keep the area clean.

Not only do you need to sweep up ashes after you have extinguished the fire, but you should also make a habit of removing ashes from the firebox. To safely remove ashes, you need to allow the fireplace to cool down. Generally, this means you should wait for at least 48 hours after the last fire has been extinguished. After this waiting period, you will need a metal bucket with a lid that can close completely, a metal ash shovel, gloves, and a breathing mask. Simply shovel the ashes into the bucket until there is only a one-inch layer of ashes left on the firebox floor. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that you leave behind this layer of ashes to help you build and maintain a fire. It will also work to protect the floor of your firebox.

If you have glass doors on the front of your fireplace, you will want to include these in a regular cleaning routine to remove stains from smoke and soot. Ace Chimney Sweeps recommends that you use a soft cloth or sponge and soapy water to clean your glass fireplace doors.

Child & Pet Proofing

If you have young children and/or pets, you should make sure that your fireplace is a safe place for them. Kids and animals can be very curious about fires, so don’t leave them alone in the room while a fire is burning. Another important step to take is to install a safety gate in front of the fireplace to keep young ones from coming too close to the flames. Not only could a toddler or puppy stumble into the fireplace, but little hands and paws can get burned by touching glass doors. You want to ensure that the gate that you choose can be secured to the walls. Never put a free-standing gate up as this type of gate can be easily knocked over and lead to more injuries. In this case, you would always rather be safe than sorry.

Another important maintenance task is to have your chimney professionally swept and inspected every year to be sure that your chimney and fireplace system is working efficiently and safely. To schedule, an appointment with a member of our experienced team of professionals, contact us today at Ace Chimney Sweeps. We are here for all of your professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation needs.