How to Get Your Fireplace Ready For Winter
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How to Get Your Fireplace Ready For Winter

A wood burning fireplace offers warmth, relaxation and can offset the cost of an existing heating system, but it must be cared for properly in order to work its best. Keeping a wood burning stove or fireplace clean and in good working order is imperative when it comes to efficiency as well as safety.

A wood burning fireplace offers warmth, relaxation and can offset the cost of an existing heating system, but it must be cared for properly in order to work its best. Keeping a wood burning stove or fireplace clean and in good working order is imperative when it comes to efficiency as well as safety.

A wood stove or wood burning fireplace that is properly installed and well maintained can safely add comfort and warmth to any home. But if these units are not used and maintained properly, the consequences can be devastating.

Choosing and Burning Wood

Never use lighter fluid, gasoline or any other liquid to start an indoor fire. Always use clean dry paper and kindling to start your fire.

  • Split wood into pieces that can be put into the stove or fireplace 3-4 at a time instead of large single pieces. The smaller pieces will provide a hotter, more efficient fire.
  • Dry / seasoned hardwood is always the best choice when you are burning indoors. Soft woods or wood that is damp burns slowly and can result in a smoky, smoldering fire.
  • Burning damp / soft wood can cause excess creosote to build up in the chimney, putting you at increased risk for having a chimney fire.
  • Chimneys should be swept out (cleaned out) twice each year to decrease the risk of chimney fires.

Removing Ashes

When removing ash buildup from a fireplace or wood burning stove it is important to leave an inch or so behind to act as insulation. Grates only need to be cleaned out during the months when the unit will not be in use for several months at a time.

  • DO NOT use a vacuum cleaner to remove what look like dead ashes. Ashes can remain hot for long periods after the fire looks like it is out.
  • To remove ashes, first open the flue so that any loose ashes go up the chimney instead of all over the room. Secondly, cover the ashes with wet sheets of newspaper and scoop up with a shovel. Place them in a non flammable bucket or container until there is no chance of spark. Put the cold ashes into a trash bag to be picked up on garbage day.
  • Fireplace ashes can also be added to compost heaps.

Removing Soot

Using water to remove soot will result in a greasy black mess. Before using water, use a chemical sponge to remove soot .Chemical sponges look like brick size erasers and are and are available at most hardware stores and home improvement centers. The sponge is used dry and will remove enough soot to make water clean up less messy.

 

  • After using the chemical sponge to clean soot from bricks, they can be cleaned with a stiff brush and water. A few tablespoons of trisodium phosphate (TSP) will make clean up easier, but it will need to be rinsed once the job is done. TSP is available at hardware and home improvement centers.

     

  • For tile and marble, remove excess soot with a chemical sponge, then clean with a solution of water and a little mild soap. Rinse well and buff to a shine with a soft towel.

     

Although a well maintained fireplace is always safer to use, you must remember that all homes should have working smoke detectors as well as carbon monoxide detectors. Be sure to check the batteries regularly and change them at least once each year.

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Comments (4)

Excellent tips Laurie but you left out the most important one of all, to have the chimney cleaned by professionals. Chimney fires can be devastating and are a major cause of residential fires every year.The creosote chimney cleaning logs do a fair job of maintaining your chimney during the heating season, but you should always have a professional clean the chimney at the beginning of each heating season.

Useful and informative share on getting the fireplace ready for winter. And timely as well. I also agree with Jerry in that it's better to have a professional clean the chimney for you. Nevertheless...great share. Thanks for sharing Voted up!

Thanks for reading and for pointing that out Jerry.

Since winter is about to come so I am planning to buy a heater for my room. Toady panel heaters are in trend so I think I should buy a convenient Panel heater.

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