As the father of an autistic child, I have been faced with more than a few necessary home modifications projects. Unfortunately, with the high cost of raising a special needs child and my wife's decision to stay home and raise our son, there simply was no room in our budget to hire a contractor to complete these projects for us. Each weekend for nearly a year, I would pick a project to work on. This past month, I finally finished every project on my list. After learning more than I thought I would ever know about home construction and repair, I have a new found appreciation for the skills of general and specialty contractors. That is why I decided to start this blog to pay tribute to the job these contractors do, and help to empower more homeowners to take on the role of a contractor in their home.
It's hard to find anyone who doesn't enjoy a crackling fire on a cold winter night, but before you can enjoy the warmth and comfort your fireplace provides you need to take care of a few things. Even if you have several cords of wood stocked up, you're still not quite ready to lay your first fire of the season. With the right attention to detail, and some professional help, you'll have everything you need to enjoy a fireplace that is both safe and invitingly warm.
Clean Up After Yourself
Your fireplace shouldn't be left with old soot and ashes sitting inside it any more often than can be avoided. The same is true of your chimney, and both should be thoroughly scrubbed down at the end of each period of heavy use to make sure that the corrosive nature of wood ash doesn't result in serious damage. A little moisture in a large volume of ash can create a lye solution, which will begin eroding the mortar keeping your fireplace together.
In your chimney a different problem is waiting to happen, but this is the result of the moisture that's come out of wood you burn. Creosote will develop on the inside of your chimney, leaving a tar-like layer that is extremely combustible, even more so if you enjoy large fires. Hiring a professional chimney company to come in and clean your fireplace and chimney will help prolong the life of both.
Upgrade Your Accessories
Make sure any fire tools you own are iron or steel construction, using the fewest possible pieces or welds to assemble. This will help ensure that they hold up longer, endure higher temperatures without damage, and are generally easier to use. Use an ash-bin made from a non-reactive metal, or a galvanized aluminum to protect it from the lye reaction.
Replace your fire grate with a cast iron model that is just a little smaller than your fireplace. This will keep the grate from degrading due to use, and will prevent it from scarring up the inside of the fireplace if it shifts or rocks. Avoid grates with protruding metal that can scrape away mortar or weaken the brick face.
Fireplaces are a nice addition to any home, but without good upkeep and responsible use they can also end up as the last remnant of your very nice home. Play it safe, rely on a professional chimney or fireplace company (like Alpine Fireplaces) for major cleaning, and watch your fireplace for signs of wear each time you clear out the ashes from your last fire.Share
15 September 2015