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The Best Practices for Maintaining your Chimney and Fireplace

The look of a classic wood-burning fireplace can add character and a sense of coziness to your home as an inviting family gathering spot during the colder months. It is highly important to keep your fireplace and chimney in pristine condition to optimize its heating efficiency, minimize general wear and tear, and save you money over time. Properly maintaining your home’s chimney and fireplace is essential for ensuring the safety of your loved ones. Below are our top tips for maintaining and preserving the life of your chimney and fireplace so you and your family can enjoy it for years to come.

Remove Ash Regularly from Your Fireplace – Routine grate and combustion firebox maintenance doesn’t only keep your fireplace tidy, it also helps promote a clean-burning fire, thereby reducing the build-up of creosote (a dangerous byproduct produced by burning wood and remains in the chimney until it’s removed) as well as other harmful substances in the fire chamber.

As wood burns, a layer of ash continually forms in and around the grate of your fireplace. Once this layer gets too high, it hinders the flow of air around the firewood which is necessary to ensure it burns cleanly and efficiently. However, a thin layer of ash can help start and keep the fire burning, because ash possesses excellent heat-keeping properties. Because of this, a balancing act is required to ensure the right amount of ash in the fire chamber.

Most experts recommend maintaining a layer of ash that is approximately one inch thick while removing any excess. Always be sure that the ashes are cold before removal and using a metal bucket and shovel is also a good idea to avoid injury.

Only Use Seasoned Firewood – The quality and type of wood you burn can have significant impacts on whether your fire is clean-burning. Whether you prefer to burn softwood or hardwood, ensuring the wood is well-seasoned is essential. This means that the wood is no longer green, and has been dried out enough that it will burn evenly and with minimal smoke.

Burning green wood can negatively affect the life of your fireplace and chimney due to the high moisture content that causes creosote to develop at higher levels than seasoned wood. Well-seasoned hardwood, including oak, walnut, and maple, is the best and safest type of wood for use in a fireplace.

Always Repair Damage Quickly – Chimneys are subjected to a lot of wear and tear due to weather. High winds, heavy rain, frost, snow, and ice, can cause damage to exposed chimney caps and tops. Over time, brick joints and mortar deteriorate, causing bricks to crack, split, and fall. Chimney caps can also become damaged, sometimes allowing rain to enter the chimney flue.

Making chimney repairs as quickly as possible is always a good choice. When left untreated, these structural problems can accelerate the deterioration process. It is important to have a professional chimney cleaning and repair company promptly fix any damage and conduct a thorough inspection for any problems that aren’t visible.

Be Prepared to Upgrade Your Fireplace – Fireplaces can vary significantly in maintenance needs and longevity depending on the type, and not all of them are designed to last. For instance, a contemporary wood-burning fireplace insert often only lasts for a decade or so before a replacement is required.

Older fireplaces that were constructed with solid cast-iron features and firebricks can sometimes last a lifetime, though chimney liners will likely need replacement. In addition, individual bricks, tiles, or stone veneers may become damaged from the constant heat. Whatever kind of wood-burning fireside is in your home, planning for repairs and replacement in your home maintenance budget is a good idea.

Get Routine Professional Inspections – For your peace of mind, scheduling regular fireplace and chimney inspections and cleaning services is essential. Experts recommend that these services be performed annually. A qualified and experienced inspector will take the time to thoroughly examine the complete chimney structure and system for any signs of damage, hidden soot, creosote build-up, blockages, debris, and possible wildlife.

Local Expertise in Southwestern Ontario

Incorporating these 5 tips into your home maintenance routine can help you enjoy your fireplace and chimney for as long as possible. Building Insights offers professional fireplace and chimney inspections in Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, KW, Cambridge, St. Jacobs, Elmira, Listowel, Fergus, Elora, Arthur, Mount Forest, Drayton, Stratford, New Hamburg, Paris, Brantford, Ancaster, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton, Milton, Halton Hills, Erin and surrounding areas. Get in touch with us today to schedule our expert services or receive a free quote.

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