Our Company Blog

Fall Fireplace Care

The chill of fall is in the air, and if you haven’t already, you’ll soon be lighting up your fireplace. Before you light your first fire — and as you enjoy your fireplace this fall and winter — it’s important to follow some basic fireplace maintenance tips.

Have your fireplace checked and inspected

Fireplace care begins with a chimney sweeping and inspection. During your chimney cleaning, your chimney sweep will remove flammable creosote and any other debris from your fireplace so it’s ready for safely vent your fireplace. Your sweep also will inspect your firebox, chimney flue, exterior chimney structure and any working components of your fireplace to ensure that your fireplace and chimney are ready to safely ignite and contain your fires this fall and winter.

Conduct a visual inspection of your chimney structure

Before your chimney sweeps arrives, you should perform a quick visual inspection of your fireplace and chimney so you can address any concerns with your sweep. Look for loose, cracked or flaking bricks and mortar; stains on the exterior of your chimney; rust on your damper, fireplace doors or metal fire grate; signs of leaks or moisture; and cracks or pieces of flue tile in your firebox.

Create a safe zone around your hearth

Over the summer, there’s a good chance that your focus hasn’t been on keeping a safety zone around your fireplace. Before you light a fire, clear any flammable materials, such as pillow, blankets and magazines, from the three feet around your hearth. Make sure that you don’t have any décor hanging from your mantel that could melt or ignite from the extreme heat of your fireplace.

Clear the ash out of your fireplace

Between fires, you should be clearing ash away from your fireplace. Once your fire has cooled completely, usually 24 hours or more after your fire has been extinguished, use a metal shovel to scoop ash out of the bottom of the fireplace. Clear ash into a metal bucket with a tight-fitting lid. The cooled ash can be used as compost or snow melt, or bagged and thrown out with your regular garbage. You can leave a blanket of ash an inch or so deep in the bottom of your fireplace to insulate and improve the efficiency of your fireplace.

Burn the right firewood

Caring for your fireplace means burning the right fuel. Burn hardwoods that have been seasoned for at least six to 12 months. Burning wet wood, wood that hasn’t been fully seasoned or an excess of soft woods can lower the efficiency of your fireplace and cause a rapid buildup of dangerous creosote within your chimney.

If you’re prepping your fireplace for the fall fire-burning season, call Your Chimney Sweep to help! We can sweep and inspect your fireplace and chimney, and we can help advise you on any hearth improvements or hearth maintenance to get you through the winter.

By Joe Sauter on October 12th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Tips for starting a fire in a cold fireplace

When you light a fire in your fireplace, are you greeted with a face — or even a room — full of smoke? Often, a backdraft of smoke into your home when you light a fire is a sign that your chimney is too cold. Cold, dense air fills the chimney, blocking the smoke from rising up and out of the chimney as it should. Once the chimney warms, the fireplace and chimney work together as they ought to keep smoke out of your home. This problem is especially when the chimney is located on an exterior wall of a home, where it doesn’t have the home’s structure to insulate the air with in.

If you suffer this problem regularly, you don’t have to deal with the smoke each time you light a fire. By following some simple tips, you can have your cold chimney drafting properly as soon as the fire begins to roar.

Tip 1: Open your damper in advance.

Your damper seals the warm air of your home from the cold air of your chimney. Opening your damper a half an hour or so before you light the fire can allow some of the warm air from your home to enter the chimney flue so that your fire isn’t combating the freezing cold air inside your chimney.

Tip 2: Preheat your flue.

If you don’t like to keep your damper open to lose warm air from your home, you also can preheat your flue manually. To do so, tightly roll newspapers into two or three batons. Light the end of one of the batons, and hold it up near your damper. Continue this process until you feel the warm air and see the smoke from the newspapers flowing upward into the chimney.

Tip 3: Build a hot, efficient fire.

A hot, efficient fire will warm your chimney faster, lowering your risk of having smoke flow backward. Start by leaving a bed of ashes — 1 to 2 inches will do — at the bottom of your firebox. This will insulate the fire and help it to burner hotter faster. Make sure you are using dry seasoned firewood to create the hot fire your fireplace needs to burn as efficiently as possible and warm the chimney quickly.

Tip 4: Build an upside down fire.

An upside down fire is an easy way to preheat your flue before your fire starts bellowing a lot of smoke. As the name suggest, an upside down fire is built in the reverse order one usually builds a fire: The largest logs are placed on the bottom in one direction, with another layer on top; slightly smaller logs go on the next layer; the kindling goes at the top, and your newspaper or fire starter tops the entire stack of wood. When you light the newspaper at the top, it will warm the chimney to correct the draft, and the larger pieces of wood below it will ignite in a full fire.

If you follow all of these tips and your fireplace continues to smoke, call Your Chimney Sweep. You may have something else affecting your draft, and our chimney experts will help you to diagnose and correct your drafting problem.

By Joe Sauter on February 10th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment