How to Safely Prepare Your Fireplace for the Winter

Tis the season for cold and blistery weather and being prepared will help ensure you have a safe and warm holiday season. Getting your wood and gas fireplace ready to use can be a strenuous process. Aqua Spas and Pools is here to help keep your honey-do list to a minimum! Below are a few tips you may consider as you fire up your wood or gas fireplace for the first time this season.

 

WOOD STOVES

Getting Your Fireplace Ready for Winter

 

Inspection:

Cracks in your chimney can happen from freezing and thawing temperatures, footing and soil issues or earthquakes. The first step to getting your fireplace prepped is to inspect the structure for any defects in the brick and mortar. Also check the chimney liner for any deteriorating or cracking. There are a few types of chimney liners, clay tiles being the most popular, as well as metal liners and cast-in-place liners. Cracks in the liner could lead to exhaust or smoke leaking into your home.  If there are any issues with your chimney it is important to address these before firing up your fireplace! 

 

Cleaning:

It is very important to clean your chimney before firing up your stove for the season. The by-products of combustion produced when the wood burns such as smoke, gases, tar fog, and unburned wood pieces travel up the chimney, but the residue gets stuck on the inner walls of the colder parts of the chimney, that’s how you get creosote.  It can get quite dangerous having creosote, soot, and debris, while burning off your fireplace as creosote is highly flammable. Most chimney fires can be undetectable but without proper cleaning you are at risk for damage to your chimney or even worse, a house fire. Cleaning your chimney may be slightly difficult, you must chemically treat it using a creosote removing spray or powder on the fire or firewood, then use a wire chimney sweep brush, however it is recommended to hire a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. Make sure to clean the blower and ashbin as well!

 

Firing it up: 

Be sure to check the damper and make certain it is opened before lighting any fireplace, a closed damper can lead to a bad carbon monoxide situation in the home. You will also need both fire and carbon monoxide detectors installed prior to using your fireplace. Now, you must choose the right firewood to get started. Seasoned hardwood such as maple, walnut, or oak is best. However, any wood that has “seasoned” meaning split and stored in a dry area for 6+ months will do just fine, it is more important to have dry wood than the species of wood.

 

GAS

Getting Your Fireplace Ready for Winter

 

 Inspection:

You will want to inspect any venting involved with your gas stove, any buildup of debris in the venting system can create a blockage which can lead to a fire hazard or carbon monoxide getting forced back into your home. Also check for any rodent or bird infestations. Inspect the gasket on the door to ensure the seal is adequate between the glass assembly and the combustion chamber to prevent any byproduct of the fire from blowing into your home. You may want to hire a professional to complete an inspection of the seals, sensors and other individual components that may be a cause for concern if not inspected.

 

Cleaning: 

Assessing the glass in your fireplace is a not a step you want to skip, the glass helps regulates the carbon monoxide. While you are cleaning it with fireplace glass specific cleaner such as Stove Bright or Rutland White Off and a soft cloth. You will also want to make note of any scratches or chips in the glass and get the glass replaced immediately if there are any major scratches. The rocks and log set may get dusty during the off season so you may want to take a vacuum or a soft brush to them, the dust will not necessarily pose a health risk but it may cause an unpleasant smell when you are starting the fireplace up for the season. Lastly, you will want to clean and dust the blower, since the electric blower is what circulates the warm air you will want to make sure there is no blockage or dust  that may be blown out when you start up your gas fireplace, this can be done with a stiff bristled brush and a vacuum. 

 

Firing it up: 

If you have gone through all these steps, then you are all ready to fire your gas fireplace up for the season! When you ignite your fireplace, the pilot should turn on smoothly, however in some cases it may be difficult to get the pilot to light in the beginning. If you are having difficulties getting the pilot to light, you can try putting the pilot valve on pilot and push the valve in and hold it while you ignite it, then hold it for a minute while it warms up, that should insure the pilot is hot enough to ignite so that you can then move the valve to the on setting.

 

Aqua Spas and Pools, in Gig Harbor, is here to help you with all your fireplace needs this season. Call us today at 253-851-6942 to speak with one of our trained professionals!