One of the features that many people desire when shopping for a home in Hauppauge, NY, is an interior fireplace. A fireplace built of brick or stone lends a weighty feel to the home and is usually a focal point of the room. There are potential hazards that come with enjoying a roaring fire on a cold night, and one of them is not keeping the interior of the fireplace clean and the chimney clear. Here are some considerations for having an interior masonry fireplace cleaned.
What Parts Should Be Cleaned?
It’s usually best to start with the hearth and vacuum any ashes and dust—but only long after the fire has cooled and the ashes are completely cooled. Some homeowners sprinkle coffee grounds over the leftover ashes in the grate to keep the dust to a minimum when sweeping out the remaining wood pieces and residue. Once per week, it’s wise to shine a light up into the flue to see if there is any buildup of soot and creosote. If so, this residue should be removed as it is a potential fire hazard. The chimney also needs a good cleaning to keep the exit free for smoke from your fires.
When Should the Fireplace Be Cleaned?
The best rule of thumb is to have the fireplace cleaned at the beginning of fire-burning season. This way any leftover creosote or soot can be removed before you begin to burn a fire on a regular basis. It’s possible for twigs, leaves, and birds’ nests to collect in the chimney without you ever knowing, and those items certainly pose a fire hazard. A masonry fireplace could also be routinely cleaned at the end of fire-burning season. What about during the fire-burning season? If the build-up inside the fireplace is shiny, or thicker than 1/8 inch thick, or flaking off, the fireplace needs to be cleaned.
Can You Do This Yourself?
Here is why it always make sense to have a professional look after and clean your fireplace: First, a professional chimney technician knows to look for crumbling mortar, damaged bricks, incorrect drafting, and any other operational problems. Second, they have the necessary tools and cleaning supplies to remove the flammable materials, without leaving behind any residue that could catch fire. Third, a professional technician knows the inner workings of all types of fireplaces and can ensure that yours is operating in tip-top shape.
What You Can Do Yourself
You can take some steps to keep your fireplace safe and in good working order so that anytime you are ready to enjoy a fire, you can be confident that it will be nothing but a pleasure. Only burn seasoned wood; wood that has not dried out holds moisture and can produce excess smoke and creosote. You’ll want to avoid allowing ash to build up, and dispose of ashes only when they have completely cooled down.
Sitting by the fire is fun and cozy, and makes for a great family night activity. Using the fireplace regularly can cut down on energy costs, which is always helpful. And, if the electricity happens to go out, you still have a way to keep warm and cook food! Just be sure to have your fireplace regularly maintained to prevent any unexpected fires or damage to your home.