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!

Frequently Asked Questions About Fireplaces:

How can I get rid of unpleasant odors coming from my fireplace?

Although a fireplace can add tranquility to your home, this can be interrupted by obnoxious fumes. Common practices to eliminate these odors include; spraying a fireplace deodorant, using charcoal to absorb the smell, placing an air purifier near the fireplace, and calling a professional for further inspection and potential repair.

What is the best way to start a fireplace?

When lighting a fireplace, there are two methods more widely used than others. The Log Cabin Method is performed by placing two rows of parallel logs on top of each other to form a simple log cabin-like structure. Layers can continue to be added, allowing for a bigger fire with more to feed on. The other option is the Top-Down Method. Instead of using rows of two parallel logs, this method involves organizing the wood by size, placing the larger pieces at the bottom of the pile. This approach is more commonly recommended and can be much more efficient than the Log Cabin method.

How does my gas fireplace get ventilation?

Fireplaces are able to release smoke and other toxins in exchange for fresh air by using a direct-vent system. This involves connecting your chimney to the air from outside, rather than the circulated air from indoors. As cool air rushes through a pipe that opens up to the outdoors, an inner chamber forces out toxins and exhaust.

Is it expensive to get my fireplace inspected?

As long as there aren’t unforeseen challenges or damage to your chimney, the average cost of an inspection is between $300-$600. Usually, the cost for cleaning services is included in this price as well. If there is anything that needs to be replaced or repaired, costs tend to add up quickly. By taking proper care of your fireplace, you can decrease the cost to maintain it and increase its longevity.

What is a safety pilot?

Most gas fireplaces contain a small flame, called the pilot light, that is constantly burning to allow for easy ignition. When this light flame starts to burn too hot or is blown out, the pilot valve will automatically close all the other valves in the system, stopping gas from entering.

Is it safe to shut off my fireplace pilot light during the summer?

Yes, it is safe to turn your fireplace’s pilot light off in the warmer months. By doing so, you can conserve energy usage and costs.

How do I know if my fireplace is ready to be used?

A fireplace is safe to use when it is able to ignite instantly, the presenting flame is blue in color, and all exhaust and fumes are able to be vented out properly.  It is almost a smart idea to thoroughly examine your fireplace for any damages, cracks, or hazards. You should never light your fireplace if you do not have a working and accessible fire extinguisher nearby.

Is it safe to hang a TV above my fireplace?

Although it can be aesthetically pleasing, mounting a TV on the wall above your fireplace can be very dangerous and is advised against. It is recommended that TVs are placed in an area that is 100 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler, or the risk for damage sharply increases.

Who can I call for to inspect my fireplace?

The only way to guarantee that your fireplace is safe to be lit is to call a professional for a full inspection. New England Hearth and Home is a team of experts who can help you with any questions or assistance you may need for your fireplace. Call us today at (781) 562-0771, or come to our store in Canton, MA.

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!





Best Ways to Clean Fireplace Doors

Owning a wood burning fireplace in your home comes with responsibility to keep it looking good as new. It is a great luxury to have in your home, and can bring up the value of your home if you are choosing to sell. In order to keep your you fireplace a safe place to burn wood, you must take proper care of it. Cleaning and maintenance to your fireplace can keep you and your home safe, as well.

Cleaning Basics

First things first – make sure you take the fireplace doors off the fireplace before cleaning them! It can be a messy task. Lay them down flat on a towel or rag, since soot will get all over the place. You could also do this outside or in a garage to avoid getting your home dirty.

All-Natural Options

There are ways to clean your fireplace doors without chemicals and sprays. You can clean it by just using a newspaper or paper towel and ash. Wipe the glass with the ash in a circular motion to loosen the stuck-on soot. You can repeat this until all of the soot is gone. Afterwards, you can go over it one more time, but with glass cleaner to make sure you get it completely clean, if you want.

 Make Your Own Cleaner

You can make a homemade cleaner using vinegar and ammonia. This includes 1 cup of vinegar, 3 cups of warm water, and 1 tablespoon of ammonia. Put this all in a spray bottle, and spray the doors and let it sit for about 30 seconds before scrubbing it on the glass. You might have to do this 2-3 times to get all the soot off.

Commercial Cleaner

You can always use a store-bought cleaner to clean your fireplace doors. There is no shame in that! If you want a strong cleaner, a store-bought one is the best way to go. Just make sure the one you buy is suitable for a fireplace. Commercial cleaner is great to have handy in your home.

Professionally Cleaned

If you get your home professionally cleaned, they will most likely clean your fireplace doors. This can save you time and effort, and have your fireplace looking great!

No matter what way you choose, regularly cleaning your fireplace glass doors will make it easier on you. Less harsh scrubbing if you do it regularly. Take care of your fireplace so it is always looking its best! Contact New England Hearth & Home for all of your fireplace needs. Call us at 781-562-0771 or fill out our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!