Proper Care of a Wood-Burning Fireplace

There’s nothing cozier on a cold winter day than curling up in front of a crackling fire, and fireplaces found in houses nowadays offer old-world nostalgia at a safer, more efficient way. Modern fireplaces may be easier to care for than their predecessors, however they nonetheless require care and maintenance to operate safely and correctly.

Modern Fireplaces

Traditionally, fireplaces have been built directly into a home using stone, bricks and concrete, and fires sat in an open hearth. Factory built fireplaces are made of metal and comprise both the fireplace and chimney. They can be insulated, and use screens and glass doors for security and efficacy; some possess blowers that circulate hot air into a space. Modular masonry fireplaces also are a choice, and also their tailored construction may make them even more efficient compared to factory built models — but they’re more expensive.

Everyday Use and Maintenance

Never burn considerable amounts of paper or yard debris which rapidly ignites and burns very hot, since this type of material can damage the joints on your fireplace’s building. Never use combustible materials such as gasoline for starting fires. Always use glass doors which are meant for fireplaces and have been completely tested. Keep the doors open until the fire is low, but always shut the screen to keep cinders from escaping. Always open the damper prior to starting a fire, and keep it open while the fire is burning.

Yearly Inspection

Totally inspect your fireplace and chimney, inside and outside, for damage every season before you start using it. Check the masonry and the firebox lining for cracks. Check that the damper properly functions. Check the smoke chamber and the base of the flue using a torch for accumulation and damage of soot. Check the chimney for damage or leaning, and make sure the chimney cap is intact. Check for stains inside the house all around your chimney, since these may indicate leaky flashing.


If you’ve got a massive buildup of soot, or you notice any damage or areas of concern, it is ideal to call a chimney and fireplace professional for a thorough inspection and repair. An experienced professional will have the ability to give you a clear picture of the condition of your fireplace and also what any repairs may cost. The Chimney Safety Institute of America, and the National Fire Protection Association both urge all functional fireplaces undergo an annual inspection and sweep. If you aren’t experienced in fireplace and chimney repair and maintenance, find somebody who is.

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