Getting Your Fireplace Ready for Winter

Posted 26 February 2015 4:34 PM by admin

Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to declutter? Maybe you’ve been thinking about opening an Ebay account to start selling off possessions, old books, record albums, dated technology, furniture etc. For every weekend tag sale scavenger there are folks looking to pare down, cut back, even unload their accumulation of stuff. If you’ve been canceling hard copy magazine subscriptions, forgoing the purchase of real books in favor of ebooks on a Kindle or an iPad, or streaming music on Spotify, Pandora or Beats instead of buying CDs - you may be a budding minimalist.

Over the past few years we have heard about or maybe seen on reality TV, the bizarre and often sad lives of those we refer to as hoarders. We have heard less about those looking to minimize the “things” in their lives. For those looking to live a “minimalist” life, a whole culture has sprung up to support, encourage and assist you. Books, magazines, blogs and more tout the virtues of a simple life devoid of possessions. But Minimalism is more than just a lifestyle choice, it as an aesthetic, a creed. If not a religion, then perhaps a spiritual practice based on the premise that an uncluttered room reflects an uncluttered mind. Outside:
• Be sure that there is nothing obstructing the opening of your chimney. Leaves, birds nests, etc can be a fire hazard as well as preventing the proper draw. Consider a chimney cap if you don’t already have one.
• Look closely at brick and mortar for signs of deterioration such crumbling or flaking.
• Pay close attention to the flashing. This is where the chimney meets the roof. Be sure that it’s sealed water tight.

Inside:
• For a cleaner chimney always burn seasoned dry hardwoods. Hardwood burn hot producing less creosote.
• Be sure to keep fire box free of ash. Clean after you have accumulated 2 or more inches in depth. To be safe allow 72 hours before removing ash to ensure that it’s cold.
• Inspect bricks and mortar on the front of the fireplace as well as inside the firebox. Look for flaking or crumbling mortar.
• Use a solution of soap and warm water to remove most soot and smoke stains in the firebox. For more stubborn stains check with your local hardware store for recommendations.
• Make sure that the flue damper is positioned correctly and closes tight. Poor drafting can realist in a a build up of smoke and soot around the opening of the fireplace.
• Creosote is a black tar like substance produced by the incomplete combustion of wood. It forms on the lining of your chimney and is highly combustible. Creosote should be no more that 1/4 inch thick and must be removed on a regular basis. Clean at the end of each season to avoid damage to fireplace mortar from acids in the creosote. Strong odors may result when creosote and humidity are combined.

Don’t play with Fire
Getting a professional inspection and cleaning of your chimney on a regular basis is the smart thing to do. A certified Chimney Sweep has the tools needed to do a thorough cleaning without messing up your house.

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