February – this month can be so confusing weather-wise. You have cold days interspersed with those days that remind you that spring is on its way. These are the days that you really love to use your fireplace. It’s great on those cold nights, but it’s also great when you’re trying to just get that chill out of the air. That’s why people often find that February is a month that your chimney gets a lot of use. Because of this, it’s especially important to keep maintaining your fireplace to reduce any added soot and creosote build-up.
Burn the Right Wood
One thing that you might want to look at could be the type of wood that you are burning. Different types of wood make for different types of fires. What you want is a good, hot fire – the hotter the fire, the less creosote build-up that will occur. For a good, hot fire, burn oak, hickory, or elm. No matter what type of wood you end up using, the most important thing is to make sure that the wood has been seasoned sufficiently. For most woods, this means at least six months, but if you can get wood that has been seasoned for a year or even longer, that will be better yet. As an added benefit, your fire will produce much less smoke.
Keep it Clean
It’s a good idea to keep your fireplace clean, especially during the months of heavy usage. Just use a handheld vacuum or a fireplace broom and dustpan to brush off any loose ashes from the bottom and base of your fireplace. To avoid having ashes flying all over, try sprinkling used coffee grounds on the ashes before you sweep. Scrub down the exterior bricks of the fireplace by spraying the bricks with water, then some hearth cleaner if you have a new fireplace, or just water with an older fireplace. Make sure you clean the glass doors of your fireplace, too, using a hearth cleaner.
Look around the room that your fireplace is in, and make sure that there aren’t any flammable materials, such as furniture, drapes, cushions, books, or toys stored too close to the fireplace. Keep small children away from the fireplace, and train older children in the correct manners of starting and maintaining a fire. Always make sure that you have working smoke detectors outside of every bedroom, in the same room as your fireplace, and on every floor of the house. Make sure you check the batteries on those monthly, and replace the batteries every six months.
Call in the Professionals
All of these do-it-yourself tricks are a great way to keep your fireplace in spit-spot shape during the winter, heavy-use months. But the best defense against creosote build-up and other fire hazards is to have your chimney inspected and cleaned on a yearly basis by a professional. If you live in Hickory, North Carolina or any of the surrounding areas, Chimney Sweep Plus is the place to call!