7 Tips for Chimney and Fireplace Maintenance

by Chris Bjorklund


Make sure your fireplace is safe to use before you build your first fire of the season. Photo: Fireplace Door Guy ©2020 

This holiday season, many of us will spend time tidying our homes and putting up decorations. As you busy yourself around the house, perhaps your fireplace will catch your eye. A roaring fire sounds nice this time of year, but can you be sure the fireplace is in working order? Follow the tips below to learn more about chimney and fireplace maintenance. After all, there’s one annual holiday visitor who’s sure to stop by, and you’ll want to make a good impression.

  1. Perform yearly inspections. Ideally, a chimney sweep should do an inspection once a year, no matter how often you use your fireplace. A technician will check the condition of the fireplace and flue, look for any obstructions, and use specialized tools to clear soot buildup. 
  2. Burn the right kind of wood. Certain soft woods like pine contain too much sap and aren’t suitable for home fires. Hardwoods such as oak, beech and ash are harder to ignite, but they produce longer-lasting fires with less smoke. Only use wood that has been thoroughly dried, correctly split and stored in a covered area. 
  3. Keep the hearth area clear. During the holidays, it’s tempting to surround the fireplace with decorations. However, many of these items are highly flammable and could easily ignite from a wayward spark. To prevent overheating, all furniture should be at least three feet from the fireplace. 
  4. Use a fireplace screen. A fireplace screen can help prevent sparks from jumping beyond the hearth and causing fire damage. Additionally, a screen will protect small children and pets by preventing them from getting too close to the flames.
  5. A custom fireplace door can increase safety. Many homes have pre-fabricated, glass fireplace doors. When in use, the surface temperature of the glass can approach 1,000 F, making the door a burn hazard. A custom, wrought-iron door built specifically for your home’s fireplace absorbs far less heat, only reaching 90 F. 
  6. A gas fireplace still needs to be maintained. If you haven’t used your gas fireplace in several months, be sure to clear away any dust or debris before starting your first fire of the season. An annual inspection will confirm that the gas lines are still sound and there’s no risk of carbon monoxide entering your home. 
  7. Inspect after earthquakes. Be sure to have your chimney inspected after a major earthquake or significant weather event. A technician will determine if there has been any structural damage to your chimney. 

Enjoying a roaring fire on a crisp winter evening is one of the pleasures of the holidays in the Bay Area. But failing to maintain your fireplace can lead to hazardous conditions right in your living room. Before you make use of your fireplace, contact a qualified chimney sweep to ensure your fireplace and chimney are in good repair. A fireplace door designer can help you make a statement with your fireplace. A custom door will fit in better with the room’s decor, and as an added benefit, it will offer greater safety to your family. 

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