Just like you would have your air ducts cleaned and air conditioner or water heater repaired or inspected, your fireplace also needs some attention and care from a professional to make sure it’s working properly and most importantly, safely, for you and your family to enjoy any time of the year.
Gas Fireplace Maintenance and Safety Tips
A gas fireplace can be a very attractive, ambience enhancing and useful addition to your home and while they are certainly more low maintenance compared to a wood burning fireplace, they do require a proper inspection and cleaning at least once a year to ensure it is operating safely and efficiently.
Gas fire places have the advantage of burning cleaner than traditional fireplaces and don’t produce the kind of smoke, soot and ash debris as the wood-burning kind. That being said, it’s particularly important that you get a trained profession to do a regular inspection of your gas fireplace for a number of reasons. For instance, a white film that can appear on the glass enclosure of your fireplace isn’t dust build up, it can actually be a sign of improper combustion which happens when there is an improper ratio of gas to air being burned. The usual culprit for that is none other than dirty gas burners inside the fireplace.
A professional analysis will also include a multi-point inspection test that will cover off things like checking the ignition and ventilation systems, surveying the log set and adding embers if they are needed. A properly trained inspector can also answer any questions you may have about routine fireplace maintenance you can perform throughout the year and address any issues you may have with the fireplace operating manual.
Wood Burning Fireplace Maintenance and Safety Tips
Wood burning fireplaces have been around for centuries and they’re here to stay because of their beauty, simplicity and usefulness. In fact, a University of Alabama study suggests the flickering light, crackling sounds, warmth and distinctive smell that come from a wood burning fireplace touch on our pre-historic way of living. Just the simple act of watching and listening to a crackling fire lowers blood pressure, dissolves anxiety and provides a gateway to deep relaxation and calm.
A regular inspection of your chimney flue is necessary to determine how often it should be cleaned. Creosote (the flammable by-product naturally released during wood burning that clings to the inside of fireplaces) has to be removed frequently to stave off potential chimney fires. But how dirty the chimney flue gets honestly depends on how often you use our wood burning fireplace throughout the season. There are creosote burning logs on the market and while they can be a help in loosing light creosote residue build-up, they don’t replace the effectiveness of a physical chimney sweeping. Sometimes, the creosote build-up can be so bad, it has a gummy consistency and in that case, a chemical treatment (powder or acid) may be necessary to make the creosote dryer and therefore, easier to break up and remove.
Of course, knowing what to burn in the fireplace is also important. No to pizza boxes or holiday wrapping paper! Only seasoned wood is allowed.
If your fireplace is releasing an odour throughout the year, it can likely be excess creosote deposits and a clear signal you need to get your chimney swept. That may not eliminate all of the smell so you can also try using commercially available chimney deodourants but kitty litter or baking soda in the fireplace has also been known to be effective at killing the unwanted smell.
Typically, your fireplace should definitely be looked at by a professional after the winter as that’s when the most damage tends to happen to the internal structure of a chimney. The bricks inside your chimney can become quite damaged by the freezing and thawing of snow throughout the winter months. Everything may look okay to the untrained eye, but the masonry inside, may indeed be cracked or shattered because of ice crystals.
You may think getting your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned should be done when the weather starts to turn cooler in autumn, but that would be incorrect. You should actually be getting it cleaned in the spring or summer months because once September rolls around, respectable chimney companies tend to have a service call waiting list that can span anywhere from several weeks to even several months. Being ahead of the chimney sweeping game will come in very handy for you this fall!
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