Preparing Your Fireplace For Fall

feet next to a fireplace

It’s about to be Fall in a month! Heaters across Massachusetts will be kicking on for the season, and fireplaces will be sparking to life. Along with the rest of your cold-weather essentials, fireplaces should be prepped and ready for the season. Here are four easy steps to prepare your fireplace for Fall weather:

Remove Ashes & Debrisf

The first step is to clean out any old ash and take any other debris out of the fireplace. Remove the log grate and completely clean it as well. This isn’t something you’re going to want to do, but it will help you to start the season with a beautiful, clean space.

Check The Firebrick

Search the fireplace for any loose or cracked firebrick and repairs it as needed. To fix them, scrape out the loose mortar with a scoring tool and clean it with a brush or vacuum. After that, brush water into the joints and onto the surrounding brick faces (mortar doesn’t adhere well to dry brick).

Check The Chimney and Flue

Check your flue and chimney and remove any obstructions – fallen sticks, leaves, etc. It is recommended that you have a chimney inspection every year by a certified chimney sweep to determine if there is a large amount of creosote buildup. If a layer of over 1/8 has built up, it should be removed to reduce the risk of a chimney fire. 

Get Rid Of Extra Moisture

Set a small fire (i.e., one Duraflame log) to help dry out and remove any extra moisture, which can cause the firebrick to become damaged or form creosote, as well as other damages to the fireplace. If you think that your fireplace has a lot of moisture or if you are planning on burning a fire in a brand new fireplace, follow these steps to dry it out:

  • Get two logs and burn 1/3 of the first log
  • Wait 2-4 days and then burn the rest of the first log
  • Wait another 2-4 days and burn the whole second log
  • Wait another few days, and the fireplace will be ready for regular wood-burning use 

After all of these steps, you’ll be all set to enjoy your fireplace the season long. Make sure you use seasoned, dry wood (wood that has been cut and dry for around 6-12 months) for burning and continue to clear out the ash regularly. The smart idea is to clean when the ash reaches the bottom of the grate.

Contact New England Hearth & Home

New England Hearth & Home can help you get ready for Fall. Whether you are looking to get a new fireplace installed, or need help getting your existing one ready for the season, we can be here for you! Give us a call at 781-562-0771 for more information.

Preparing Your Fireplace for the Spring

Fireplaces need to properly be taken care of when shutting them down for the warmer months. Whether you have a wood burning fireplace or gas, there are steps you need to take to keep yours last longer and staying in good condition!

Wood Burning Fireplace

Clean Up Ash

It is super important to clean out remaining ash and soot left inside the fireplace. It keeps the air quality nice and fresh, as well as restoring the beauty of your hearth. After cleaning out the ash, make sure to close the damper. By doing this, it stops air from entering your home and prevents any remnant ash and soot in the fireplace from blowing in when it’s windy.

Close the Damper

Most people do not need to use their fireplace after April or so, especially in Massachusetts. That being said, there is no need for the damper on staying open. Shutting the damper will help prevent drafts, water leakage during rainy days and will keep out backyard animals. This can also save on energy costs by avoiding any air-conditioning from leaking out.

Scheduling a Chimney Cleaning or Fireplace Inspection 

Many homeowners are not aware that the best time to schedule a chimney cleaning is during the Spring. It is usually more convenient because there are fewer appointments for the professionals during this season. Getting your chimney cleaned reduces the amount of soot buildup in the flue. When a professional visits your home for an inspection, they’ll check the chimney and flue to see if there are any cracks or leaks, as well as check that the damper and chimney cap is working correctly.

Gas Fireplace

Clean the Glass Panel

If you have a direct vent fireplace with a glass panel, the glass should be regularly cleaned. Remove the glass, then use the manufacturer’s suggested cleaner. For gas fireplace owners with glass doors, the same is recommended; use a soft cloth and the cleaner suggested by the manufacturer. Do not use any cleaning products that contain ammonia!

Brush off Soot 

Brushing off soot with a clean and dry paintbrush is an easy way to get rid of any remaining. Get as much as you can out!

Schedule a Gas Fireplace Inspection

One of our professionals will take a look at the burner and other components of the unit. Regular maintenance can increase the lifespan of your gas fireplace and reduce the amount of money spent on repairs.

Turn off Pilot Light

For gas fireplaces that have a standing pilot, you can turn it off for the Spring and Summer. Turning it off can save you money in utilities. If you don’t feel comfortable or know how to turn off your pilot light, have a professional do it for you.

Contact Us

Contact New England Hearth & Home about questions involving your fireplace. Give us a call or fill out our contact form!

What to Do When You Haven’t Used Your Fireplace in a While

brick chimney

If you just moved into a new house or decide to try the fireplace that hasn’t been touched in years, it’s a good idea to have it inspected and cleaned. You may wonder, why? It’s because fireplaces and chimneys serve as a ventilation system for your home. Even furnaces rely on chimneys to circulate fresh air. It takes carbon monoxide and brings it through the chimney to outside. If you don’t get your chimney inspected every year to check for issues, your home’s ventilation may not be up to code.

Checking For Animals

Smaller outdoor animals like squirrels, birds, and raccoons love using chimneys as a form of shelter. They end up building nests in chimneys made out of leaves, dirt, twigs, and branches – which are all flammable materials. They also may leave behind droppings which can cause bad odor in your chimney and fireplace. Before starting up a fire, make sure your chimney is clear of animals and their homes.

Musty Smells

Musty smells coming from your fireplace can mean there is a moisture issue within your chimney. If you think something may have passed away in your chimney, you’re probably right. That happens often, especially when animals have made homes up there. Make sure to not start a fire in your fireplace until the animal has been removed. Burning it will not make the smell go away.

Fireplace That Has Never Been Used

Even if you have a fireplace that you know has never been used, the right way to go about starting your first fireplace fire is to have it inspected prior. Homeowners there before you, environmental wear and tear, and outdoor creatures are still factors that could have changed the way your fireplace will function. The freezing winter temperatures can also take a toll on your chimney and how it holds up.

What Happens During A Fireplace Inspection

A simple and common chimney inspection includes a chimney sweep looking for damage, obstructions, soot, and creosote buildup, using a flashlight. If it is in need of being swept, they’ll use brushes, a vacuum, and extension poles to do so. If you just bought the house, or experienced harsh weather conditions, the inspection will continue on the roof, in the attic, and crawl spaces. They can use video scanning and other tools to determine the damage of the chimney.

Contact Us

New England Hearth & Home wants to make sure you use your fireplace safely. Give us a call at 781-562-0071 or fill out our contact form. We look forward to taking care of your fireplace needs!

 

Safety Tips for Your Fireplace or Wood Stove

logs burning in a fireplace

For the safety of you and your home, you should have your fireplace and chimney inspected once a year for any issues. You should also have your chimney swept as necessary. Between those inspections and cleanings, there are other things you can do to keep it looking and working its best.

All Fireplaces and Chimneys

There are safety precautions to take when it comes to having a fireplace and chimney in your home. Never leave a fire unattended. If by any chance it does start to spread outside of the fireplace, you could end up with your home burning as well. Always keep a fire extinguisher handy in your house just in case!

Keep the Area Clear

Keep the area around the fireplace clear of papers or other debris. This can attract sparks out of the fireplace and to places they don’t need to be. This also goes for decorations above and around the fireplace. Around the holidays, it’s tempting to hang garland and other flammable items around the area of the fireplace, and place plants and such in front of it as well. Just be cautious of what is around it and make sure it is far enough away that it won’t cause the fire to spread.

If your fireplace doesn’t have a glass door, use a mesh wire screen to help keep the sparks contained. Try not to ever have your fireplace or stove completely open with no barrier. You’ll still feel just as much heat from the fire if you have a screen, than if you left it open with nothing protecting it.

Building a Fire

Before building your fire, make sure the damper is open. That lets smoke release out of the chimney. When placing logs in the fireplace, put enough to make a fire that is the correct size for your fireplace. Burning too much wood can make too hot of a fire and damage your fireplace, or start to spill out of the fireplace.

What Not to Burn

Try to use seasoned wood that has been aged for about 6 months, to a year. Also, never burn wet, rotted, moldy, or diseased wood. This can give off gases that are harmful to you. Other items can release chemicals as well – such as wrapping paper, magazines, trash, boxes, and green wood (such as Christmas trees).

Masonry or Prefabricated Wood Burning Fireplaces

Masonry and prefabricated wood fireplaces can he different safety precautions. For masonry ones, remove ashes with a metal shovel and make sure to keep the ash in a metal container until it has cooled off. You can then use it as a fertilizer if you want! For prefabricated fireplaces, always read the manufacturer’s directions before starting your fire.

Having a fireplace can bring warmth and style to your home. Make sure you keep your house safe, as well as you and your family, while still enjoying everything a fireplace has to offer!

Contact Us

New England Hearth & Home can assist you with all of your fireplace needs! Contact us today at 781-562-0771 or fill out our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!