Even though the coldest days of winter are probably behind us (we hope!), there are plenty more chilly Hill Country nights before spring for you to enjoy a nap or family game night around a cozy fire. Before you start roasting chestnuts, there are a few things you need to know about fireplace maintenance.
Note: These tips are for wood-burning fireplaces only. If your fireplace uses a log kit, follow the maintenance instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Keep your fireplace clean
Every fire leaves behind soot, ash, and creosote (dark brown oil used as wood preservative), which builds up over time and presents a fire hazard. Sweep up soot and ash after every use.
Burn only hardwoods
Hardwoods like maple, oak, ash, and birch burn hotter and cleaner than softwoods like pine.
Maintain fireplace screens and mesh
Your fireplace’s doors and metal mesh screen should be kept clean and in good working condition. The mesh screen is particularly important because it prevents sparks and debris from escaping the fireplace.
Get your chimney inspected
Fireplaces can be health and fire hazards, so have them inspected at least annually by a professional chimney sweep. He or she will remove flammable creosote buildup and make sure the fireplace is working properly and safely. Contact the Chimney Safety Institute of America for a list of certified chimney sweeps in your area.
Never hesitate to call a professional if you have questions about your fireplace or notice a problem. Properly maintaining your fireplace and chimney ensures that you and your family can enjoy it safely year after year.