Top 3 Fireplace Questions Answered

Nothing feels better in cold weather than the whole family curling up around a wood burning fireplace, especially during the holidays! Get ready for the snap, crackle, and pop of a cozy fire after reading the answers to these top fireplace questions.

What are the best safety practices when using a fireplace?

  • The National Fire Protection Association recommends both your chimney and fireplace be inspected for safety and cleaned annually. It is important to check for creosote build-up or blockages that could prevent smoke from escaping.
  • Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of all flammable items such as furniture, drapes, books, or magazines.
  • Always use a fire screen or fireplace doors to contain sparks from your fireplace.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Make sure it is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least twice a year.

What is the best way to clean out a wood burning fireplace?

In addition to the annual heavy duty cleaning of the chimney, you will want to regularly clean out your fireplace to keep it burning cleanly. Wait at least 12 hours after your last fire before attempting to clean a fireplace in order to give the ashes and embers a chance to fully cool down. Wear old clothes, gloves, a face mask, and protective eyewear to keep the soot from irritating your lungs and skin. Lay a plastic tarp or old sheet in front of the fireplace to catch the mess. Using a handheld broom, sweep any soot and ash from the floor and walls of your fireplace and collect it into a dustpan. Dump the ash into a heavy duty paper or plastic bag as you work. Do this gently to keep as much dust as possible from flying around. Vacuum the area to catch any remaining dust, but don’t forget to clean the vacuum brush attachment afterwards – you don’t want to spread soot around the rest of your home! Now it is time to scrub. Water and hearth cleaner work well for the brick and iron parts of your fireplace. But if you have brick front or facing that’s more than 50 years old, just use water with a light scouring. Old brick is more susceptible to crumbling. For marble and stone, scrub with water and dishwashing detergent. Use old rags to wipe each area after scrubbing. The glass doors can be cleaned with a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar.

What is the best method for building a fire in a wood fireplace?

The first step is choosing the right wood. Use seasoned hardwood that has been split and dried for at least six months, but preferably for a year. Burning new wood is not recommended as it can cause more creosote buildup in your chimney. To prevent smoke from billowing into your home, be sure the damper is open. Next, crumble balls of newspaper and place them underneath the grate. Lay some dry kindling in a criss-cross pattern on top of the grate to ignite from the newspaper. Finish the stack by securely resting one to three dry logs over the kindling. Prime the flue by tightly rolling up a sheet of newspaper and holding it toward the open damper for a minute or two until you see the smoke going up the flue. Now light that glorious fire from the bottom! We hope answering these fireplace questions will help you get cozy this fall and winter. If you have a move coming up, contact us at Zippy Shell. We would be happy to discuss our storage and moving services and provide you with a free estimate.