Wood Fireplace Maintenance
Just as a furnace, air conditioner, and kitchen appliances need to be maintained, so does a fireplace. As a part of on-going maintenance, you would need to dispose of ashes, along with possibly having worn out parts replaced. Obviously, the more the wood-burning fireplace is used the more often and more intense the maintenance schedule. However, by keeping up with the care of the fireplace will provide you with a safe and efficient way to enjoy a nice, roaring fire!
It is important to understand that while wood-burning fireplaces all have the same basic components and operating functions, each system is slightly different when used. In addition, fireplaces will burn fires differently even from season to season. For instance, when operating your fireplace during the spring and fall months when temperatures are not as fierce, you would probably enjoy only an occasional fire. However, during the cold winter months, a wood-burning fireplace might be used daily.
Now, creosote, which is soot buildup on the inside of the fireplace, flue, and chimney, occurs anytime a fireplace is used, this problem is far more challenging with frequent use. As creosote becomes worse, it becomes a dangerous issue, potentially creating a fire hazard. Therefore, you want to make sure your fireplace is checked and cleaned annually by a chimney sweep to have the creosote removed.
Another maintenance issues has to do with stress on the internal components of the fireplace. In this case, if the wood-burning fireplace is used a lot or for long periods, things will begin to wear down as a natural process. Therefore, depending on the type of fireplace you have, you might see problems develop with the catalytic combustor and perhaps baffles. The good news is internal parts can be replaced, usually being very affordably priced.
Although you would maintain your fireplace throughout the year, the best time for a complete maintenance to include a professional chimney sweep would be during the summer months when the unit is not used. As a part of this process, the flue pipes and chimney would be checked, again for creosote buildup. Additionally, the chimney sweep would look for any internal deterioration, such as weak joints, rust, corrosion, and so on.
Then, if you have a masonry chimney, this too would be examined for white or black stains on the exterior showing some type of crack or leak. Other things that you can look for include broken or missing chimney bricks or pieces and even deterioration if the chimney goes through the basement or attic. Using a good flashlight, you would be able to detect problems easily. If you find something wrong, have it corrected before using the fireplace again to ensure safety and efficiency.