After an exasperating and dragged out winter, everyone is enthusiastic that spring is here! As we plan for more outdoorsy activities, the odds of sparking a warm relaxing fire fade, along with the memory of cold winter days. Before we proceed with our outdoor adventures, it’s important to remember to prepare your fireplace for the season change. Spring is the perfect time to take care of basic fireplace maintenance. This will inevitably save you time and money, as well as help keep your family safe.
Do you own a wood burning fireplace or a gas fireplace? The actions needed to prepare your fireplace for the season change depend upon your unit type.
Wood Burning Fireplaces
For those with wood burning fireplaces, the preparation and cleanup process is slightly more involved than gas burning fireplaces.
- The first step of the process is to clean up any ashes in the interior of the fireplace. This is important for two reasons:
- It keeps the indoor air quality fresh. Once you close your damper (next step), you reduce outward airflow from the home. Any ash and soot left in the fireplace will travel throughout your home at the drop of a breeze. To prevent this, simply clean it out.
- It just looks better, and it prepares your fireplace for a fresh start come fall.
- The second step in the process is to close your damper. Once the fireplace is no longer being used, there is no need for the damper to remain open. Closing the damper will help prevent drafts, leakage during rainy days, and the intrusion of outside visitors such as birds, squirrels and raccoons. A closed damper helps to prevent your air-conditioned air from being drawn out of the house during the summer months, saving on energy costs.
- The third step is to schedule a fireplace inspection and/or cleaning. Regular inspections and cleanings are universally recommended for active fireplaces. Inspections entail checking chimneys and flues for cracks or leaks, as well as examining the damper and chimney cap to make sure they are in working order. An inspection may result in the need for a chimney cleaning. A chimney cleaning reduces the amount of soot and creosote buildup in the flue (which is the leading cause of fireplace home fires).
Gas Fireplaces and Gas Logs
Although gas fireplaces and gas logs do not entail the same amount of clean-up and physical maintenance of wood burning fireplaces, they do require a specific attention to detail to ensure safety and the longevity of your unit.
- For a direct vent fireplace with an attached panel of glass in front of the opening, remove and clean the glass panel using hearth appliance glass cleaners only. If you have gas logs with a set of operable glass doors, you can clean the doors with the same product. Avoid using standard glass cleaning products, especially those that contain ammonia.
- You can use a dry paintbrush to lightly brush off any soot that may have accumulated on the logs or interior of the fireplace.
- Schedule your annual fireplace maintenance with a professional service technician. Although creosote and soot are not as big an issue with a gas fireplace, the burner and other components of the unit still require detailed inspections. Regular maintenance can add years of life to your gas fireplace, and reduce the amount spent on repairs and in-season service calls.
- If your fireplace has a standing pilot, you may opt to turn it off during the spring and summer months. This can save some money in utilities, and reduce the chances of issues pertaining to gas in your home. Before you do so, make sure you understand what is needed to relight the pilot of your unit. If it’s something you can do, great; if it’s something a professional must do for you, then it is a good idea to make sure you do not plan to use the unit for the next couple of months, until you are ready to make that call.
- Some people choose to leave the pilot light lit during the summer. This prevents spiders from building webs inside the pilot tube (a popular site for spider homes). It may wind up costing more money to schedule a service call to clean out the spider webs, than it does to keep the pilot running during the summer months.
Chadds Ford Fireside Shop can help you determine the best products for your situation and is centrally located between Glen Mills and Chadds Ford, PA. We are on Route 202 close to the Delaware/PA state line. We service the Main Line, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Chester County. Call Chadds Ford Fireside at (610) 358-9355 or stop by today.