7 Tips for Maintaining a Wood Burning Fireplace

Winter calls for getting cozy around the fireplace, but before you do, here are 7 tips to help maintain that fireplace:

  1. Clean the interior of your fireplace. Wood-burning fireplaces are great for a cold winter’s day, or a cozy night in – but it’s important to remember to remove debris.  Removing leftover remnants from burning wood will help your fireplace be more efficient.

  2. Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms should always be in working order.  Don’t let smoke ruin an enjoyable night in front of the fire. If your chimney is clogged, carbon monoxide could arise. Because of its odorless, colorless nature, it’s important to have a working carbon monoxide detector to avoid danger. Same with smoke, if your chimney isn’t in good working condition or is clogged, smoke can build up in your home very quickly and cause damage.

  3. Remove soot and creosote buildup.  Brown and black residue also known as creosote is flammable and is leftover after burning wood (especially wood that was not dried thoroughly). Soot is softer than creosotes, but can also be a fire hazard. 

  4. Check the cap. The cap to your chimney is designed to keep debris, birds and water out of your chimney. The sides are made out of a screen that is also a fire arrester. Make sure the cap and screens are functioning and replace them if necessary.

  5. Not all wood is the right wood. Hardwood produces more heat, burns longer, and doesn’t produce as much creosote as softwoods. Wood should be dried for 6-12 months before being burned in a hearth. 

  6. Test it before using it. Light a few pieces of wood to check to make sure the smoke is being released properly through the chimney, before lighting full fire. 

  7. Hire a professional. Chimney sweeps seem like a thing of the past, but utilizing their expertise can be a huge benefit. They know what to look for when it comes to damage to the chimney and can clean buildup that is a potential fire hazard. Having a chimney sweep inspect your fireplace once a year will ensure you and your family’s safety.