Keep Your Fireplace Clean & Safe
There is nothing better than a fireplace to keep warm during the cold New Jersey winter nights. However, before you light up the fireplace, make sure that it is clean and safe to use. Some of the essential chimney and fireplace maintenance comes between the times that a professional chimney sweep visits your home. There are times when you’ll need to do some maintenance yourself, even though our team at Mercer is always here to help. You can keep an eye on the following visible areas to keep your chimney and fireplace safe year-round:
The Chimney Cap
Chimney caps are coverings at the top of your chimney, and they are generally made from steel and copper mesh. The cap for your chimney helps protect it and your home from water damage. Damage to the attic, interior walls, and ceilings can happen when the chimney cap is missing or not tightly secured. Other than these obvious reasons, a functional chimney cap helps with the following:
- Keep out pests and animals
- Deflect sparks
- Prevent downdrafts from coming into the home
You should have your chimney checked annually to ensure the chimney cap is in good shape and any obstructions have been removed from the flue.
Wood for the Fireplace
Another thing you can do to increase safety is to choose and burn the right kind of wood. Certain types of wood give off fewer sparks and smoke. This can help decrease maintenance between cleanings by eliminating excess creosote. Also, the wood that you choose should be dry and dense. For example, hardwoods like maple, oak, ash, birch, and most fruit trees are the best burning woods because they give you a hotter and longer burn time. You should also store your wood in a dry place to reduce the possibility of moisture damage.
A regular task for homeowners also includes checking the firebox for ashes. Only do this once the fireplace has been off and cooled for at least 48 hours. You can vacuum or sweep out the ashes to help reduce creosote buildup, but do not clean it out thoroughly. It is best to leave about an inch of ash at the bottom so the subsequent fire can burn longer and easier. When you do these tasks, you should also consider wearing PPE so you’re not inhaling any of the ash and soot.
A chimney damper is used to seal your fireplace when it is not in use. If applied properly, it will keep heated air from escaping through the chimney: saving you money on heating costs and ensuring your home is comfortable. There are three main types of fireplace damper: fireplace throat dampers, chimney cap dampers, and flue dampers.
As soon as you light your fire, it is imperative to open the damper to let the smoke out and allow airflow. As part of your fireplace maintenance tasks, you should make sure that you can easily open and close your damper and that there are no obstructions in the way of the damper plates.
Expert Chimney Maintenance
Our chimney sweeps are trained to check the chimney, connector pipes, chimney chase cover, and chimney cap during cleaning to ensure no other deficiencies are present. Call Mercer today at 609-802-5288 to get a free evaluation and get an estimate on chimney repairs (if needed).