Have you ever noticed how often people forget about doing things like cleaning up their fireplace until right before they really want to use it? Not only can this lead to a potentially embarrassing sight, it can also lead to a very dangerous situation. Fireplace maintenance is something that most people can accomplish with little to no effort. Simply follow these guidelines to ensure that you get the job done.
- Pick it up. One of the biggest causes things to watch out for is the ashes that buildup in the fireplace. A good rule of thumb to know if you need to clean out the fireplace is if you have a pile of ashes that is deeper than two inches. Not only is the ash more likely to get all over the place, it is fairly difficult to tell if you have the fire out if there are too many ashes. In addition, too many ashes will create a higher probability of creosote buildup in the chimney, which could cause a chimney fire—not good. Periodically cleaning out the ashes, whether they have reached two inches in depth or not, is a good way of preventing potential problems.
- Stains are a bad sign. Another good indicator that you may be having some problems, and that you need to get to work, is if you start to see some stains. Such stains are often made up of combustible materials, and really should be taken care of properly. In addition, to any fire hazard these stains can present, there is also the fact that stains are simply ugly. Try removing the stains by first using some hot soapy water, but if that doesn't work then you may want to consider using something stronger like muriatic acid. If you do intend to use the acid, make sure that you carefully read and understand the instructions that come with the material before you use it.
- Don't forget the chimney. Take a look at the chimney every so often. Look for any damage to the chimney cap, and to the chimney itself. If you do find any get it repaired right away. This will help prevent any animals from getting into the chimney and accidentally causing some problem or fire hazard that you are unaware of. Another basic maintenance aspect is to have your chimney cleaned at least once a season. This will help prevent any creosote buildup within the chimney, and prevent any possible damage or fire that this could result in.
- Examine the mortar. While you are looking at the fireplace and chimney, don't forget to take a look at the mortar itself. Make note of any problems, and have them repaired as quickly as possible. By doing this you help maintain the structural integrity of the fireplace and help keep it standing for a long time to come.
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