Nothing beats relaxing by the fire on a fall evening. No matter if you’re entertaining friends or reading a book, a fireplace can be a great addition to any room.

However, your fireplace can cause problems if it’s not properly maintained. Learn more about the maintenance requirements for each type of fireplace.

Most important, no matter what kind of fireplace you have or want to add to your home, make sure you install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Both are essential in keeping your family safe when you use a fireplace.

fireplace

Wood-burning fireplace

This is the traditional style that people think of when they think about fireplaces. The fireplace’s firebox burns wood, and the smoke is directed outside by a chimney. Wood-burning fireplaces produce a beautiful ambiance, which many people enjoy. Traditional wood-burning fireplaces have some additional costs, including the requirement for constant wood burning.

Maintenance tips

  • A good rule of thumb is to have your fireplace checked by a professional chimney sweep once a year. To remove flammable materials such as creosote and soot, a professional chimney sweep can clean your chimney.
  • Test your fireplace before use by burning a few pieces of wood, and make sure the smoke is exiting through the chimney and not into your home, which can be a sign of an obstruction in the chimney duct.
  • Clean the firebox out once a week during the months you are using the fireplace, leaving a small amount of ash (about an inch) on the firebox floor to act as insulation for building the next fire and retaining heat.
  • Be cautious when cleaning your fireplace, as old coals may remain warm for up to four days. It is a good idea not to clean your fireplace until after twelve hours.
  • Keep the firebox completely clean during the months you’re not using your fireplace.
  • Make sure to wear a dust mask when cleaning a wood-burning fireplace.
  • Never use a household vacuum cleaner to clean up ashes–unseen hot embers can damage the device and the vacuum and can spread ash particles into the air. Instead, scoop the majority of the ash with a shovel and then vacuum the rest.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to prevent embers or sparks from escaping.
  • Place a flame-retardant rug in front of your fireplace to avoid damage to your floor.

fireplace

Gas fireplace

Gas Fireplaces are very popular because they require little maintenance and provide consistent heat. You only need to turn a switch or push a button to light the fire, or to extinguish it. Most fireplaces use artificial logs or stones to enhance their aesthetic appeal. While some gas fireplaces need a chimney or ventilation system to work, others can be used without one.

Maintenance tips

  • Have a professional conduct a safety inspection and cleaning annually. Professionals can clean your fireplace and inspect it for gas leaks. They also have the ability to ensure proper ventilation.
  • Before operating your gas fireplace, make sure you read the safety manual, turn off the gas, and turn off the pilot light (if it has one). Make sure that the fireplace’s glass is not hot to the touch.
  • Cleaning your gas fireplace once a month, even when it’s not in use, will help prevent dust and dirt from building up and harming the device.
  • The glass fronts of most gas fireplaces are removable, and can be cleaned with fireplace glass cleaner and a soft cloth. Make sure you check for cracks or chips in the glass.
  • Use a vacuum with a hose attachment on the inside of the fireplace to remove dirt.
  • Check the rocks and logs inside the fireplace regularly for wear or damage.
  • Periodically check the gas connection to make sure it is secure.
  • If your gas fireplace has an external vent, do a visual check for large debris or other obstructions.

fireplace

Electric fireplace

This fireplace style is very easy to maintain. It simply plugs into an electrical outlet and provides heat. An internal fan distributes heat throughout your home, while a heating coil generates heat. An electric fireplace creates a fake flame that resembles a fireplace. You can also turn the heat off to create a warm ambiance.

Maintenance tips

  • Always unplug your fireplace before cleaning or performing maintenance.
  • Regularly check the electrical components, such as wires and plugs, for any signs of wear or fraying. You can contact the manufacturer if you find anything not right.
  • Use a dry cloth to wipe down the heater and a soft brush attachment on a vacuum to clean the vents.
  • Dust the inside of your fireplace with a dry cloth. You should be gentle around artificial logs and glass that are located within the fireplace.

fireplace

Ethanol fireplace

This modern fireplace uses liquid bioethanol fuel that is placed inside burners within the fireplace. These burners allow you to easily adjust the temperature or turn the fireplace off and on. Because of its simplicity of installation and lightweight materials, this style is very popular.

Maintenance tips

  • Never clean your fireplace when it’s hot. Turn off the burners and allow them to cool down before cleaning or maintaining your ethanol fireplace. Never pour fuel into a burning burner.
  • Clean your burners with a damp cloth, and never place the burners under water. If necessary, you can clean the burners with mild soap. After drying, place them in the fireplace.
  • If you spill fuel when refilling the burners, clean it up with a dry cloth followed by a moist cloth. Before you use your fireplace, let it dry completely.

fireplace

Chimney maintenance

Additional tips to chimney maintenance:

  • Install a chimney cap to help prevent water, animals, or debris from entering the chimney. A spark arrestor can also be an option to help prevent sparks from flying out and creating a fire on your roof. Some chimney caps have metal mesh sides that can act as spark arrestors. To ensure a professional job, consult a roofing company.
  • Keep your damper closed when the fireplace is not in use. This will prevent cold air, water, or debris from getting into your chimney. When using your fireplace, make sure that the damper is always open until it cools completely.