Check for Obstructions
When getting your fireplace ready for the season, one of the first things you’ll want to do is check for obstructions. During the fall, leaves and debris can make their way into the chimney. Wildlife, such as birds and squirrels have also been known to build nests inside a chimney, and you’ll want to these animals safely removed before you continue.
Perform a Thorough Cleaning
Once the chimney is free of obstructions, you can begin a thorough cleaning. Put on a pair of safety goggles, an old outfit you won’t mind getting dirty, and surround the fireplace with a drop-cloth to protect your flooring. Close the door to the fireplace and begin cleaning out all the soot and creosote build-up along the flue with brushes specifically designed for chimney cleaning.
After you’ve finished with the flue, open up the fireplace doors and begin vacuuming out the dirt and debris with a shop vacuum. Make sure you use the vacuum’s attachments to reach the smoke shelf and the damper area. Take the drop-cloth outside and shake it off so that you don’t track any of the dirt around your home.
Complete an Inspection
The next step in keeping your wood-burning fireplace maintained is to complete an inspection. Tighten any loosening joints and repair any cracks with refractory cement. You’ll also need to check the brick and mortar on the outside of the fireplace and make any necessary repairs there as well.
Keep Track of the Fireplace’s Efficiency
To ensure your fireplace is running efficiently throughout the winter, it is a good idea to install a stack thermometer on the stove’s flue. Regularly check to see that the fireplace is maintaining a temperature that falls within 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is, you know your unit is working as it should.
Clean Up the Ashes
Ashes build up rather quickly, which means you’ll need to remove them once per day, or at least every other day in order to keep your fireplace working effectively. Shovel the ashes into an ash bucket only after they have completely cooled. Save the ashes and recycle them. They can be used to de-skunk a pet, melt ice on your sidewalk, and control the algae growing in your pond.
Wipe Down the Doors and Oil Their Hinges
Once a week it’s a good idea to wipe down the doors to your fireplace, especially if they are made of glass and easily show dirt and debris. In fact, you can use some of the ashes you saved earlier to clean your fireplace door. Simply dip a wet sponge into the ash and use it to loosen up the stuck-on soot. While you are at it, take a rag and wipe down the rest of the exposed surfaces and put a little oil on the hinges to the door.
If you’re looking to give your fireplace a face-lift, or you’d like to purchase a second wood-burning fireplace for another room in your home, contact the Alaskan Fireplace Company. Our company also offers a line of fireplace inserts, gas stoves, and gas logs. We are also authorized to sell VACUFLO central vacuum systems to make cleaning your home a breeze.