The fireplace is a focal point in your home. The crackling sound of wood or the glow of the fire that warms their homes creates a nostalgic feeling for many homeowners. Fireplace maintenance in Toronto helps your wood-burning stove provide comfort to the entire family for many more years to come.
Here are some of the best practices for fireplace maintenance.
Clean the Interior of the Fireplace
A wood-burning stove helps improve the ambiance in your home—burning wood results in several byproducts that you should remove regularly. Cleaning the interior of your wood-burning fireplace helps improve the aesthetics of your home and makes the fireplace more efficient to guarantee the comfort of your loved ones. Make sure to use a dust mask when cleaning the fireplace.
Ashes – a byproduct of wood-burning – are an excellent source of nutrients for your plants. Sprinkle them in your garden to provide the necessary nutrients to your plants.
Install Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms
Even though a wood-burning fireplace is an enjoyable source of warmth for the entire family, it can be a potential health hazard at times. An adequately installed fireplace won’t give you problems. But clogged chimneys and vent systems can result in carbon monoxide poisoning over time. Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas, and it becomes deadlier at times because people find it hard to detect the gas.
Another health hazard of a wood-burning fireplace is smoke. Although smoke enters the chimney and leaves your home, smoke can find its way into your home when dirt and foreign materials block the chimney system. Installing a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector is essential to ensure the fireplace functions correctly and safeguards your loved ones over time.
Remove Soot and Creosote Buildup
Wood burning leaves a chemical component known as creosote when you burn wood that isn’t correctly dried or adequately stored. Creosote is a brown or black residue found in the chimney’s inner walls. It is flammable and could cause chimney obstruction and fire over time.
Soot is another harmful byproduct of wood burning. Soot sticks to a much wider area and is also a fire risk, though softer than creosotes. Have both of these residues professionally removed so that they don’t block the airflow to the fireplace – which can create numerous fireplace problems.
Check the Chimney and its Cap
An efficient fireplace is a result of a well-functioning chimney. Your home may have a metal or masonry chimney. You need to check the chimney regularly for dents, cracks, and rust. These issues can lead to more significant problems over time when not addressed immediately. The chimney has a metal or stone cap made to keep birds, water, and other materials out. The cap has a screen on the side that functions as a spark arrester. You should check the cap and screen periodically and replace them when necessary.
Use the Right Wood
All woods are not suitable for your home fireplace. Seasoned hardwoods such as maple, oak, and birch are the best for your fireplace. Make sure you steer clear of softwoods such as pine and cedar. For example, adequately dried and seasoned wood has less than 20% moisture, and you need to dry the wood for at least 6 to 12 months before using them in the fireplace. If you are using faster drying wood, make sure to split the logs into small pieces before using them in the fireplace.
Hardwood produces more heat though it is more expensive. It also burns longer and doesn’t produce a lot creosote as softwood. It is better to use hardwood than softwood for your fireplace in the long run.
Test the Fireplace Before Using It
Test the fireplace to see if it’s functioning correctly before you use it. Just light up a few pieces of wood and check if the smoke releases through the chimney. If the smoke enters the room, you should correct the problem before loading more wood into the fireplace. An obstruction in the chimney duct, too much soot or creosote buildup, a closed damper, or wet wood can cause the smoke to enter the room.
Install a Blower and Heat Proof Glass Door
Installing a glass door and blower helps make your fireplace more efficient, safer, and easier to maintain. The glass door prevents sparks and embers from the fireplace tumbling into the room and keeps your overly curious kid or pet from getting too close to the heat.
On the other hand, heat-proof glass is much easier to maintain over time. Wiping the soot off the glass is easy. You only need a paper towel or damp newspaper to wipe the soot off the glass. If there is any tough to remove buildup, use light sandpaper to scrape it off the glass. A blower or fan helps circulate the heat to cover a bigger space and make the fireplace more efficient in the process.
Troubleshoot and Correct Problems as They Arise
It would help if you were proactive when troubleshooting or repairing fireplace issues as they arise. If you find a tiny crack in the chimney’s mortar, make sure to fix it before it leads to a much larger issue. It can result in a more challenging repair problem over time when not addressed immediately.
Here are some of the most common signs of fireplace issues that you should be aware of:
- Smoke doesn’t release through the chimney but fills the room instead.
- Efflorescence or white stains in the chimney bricks are indicators of past leakages. The stain can result in mould infestation or chimney damage in the long run. On the other hand, rust is also a sign of water damage.
- Spalling bricks are a sign of ageing masonry. A sealant is essential when you notice such signs to prevent the bricks from disintegrating and causing further damage.
Consider Safety Precautions
Guaranteeing your family’s safety is a part of the responsibility of owning a fireplace. Ensure that you keep combustible furniture and carpets farther away from the fireplace. If you have to use a rig in front of the fireplace, make sure to purchase a fireproof rug.