As the heating season draws to a close, and before you lay the fireplace to rest, there are some maintenance items you should perform depending on the type of fireplace you have. A full fireplace or stove cleaning ensures you are ready for the next season while making it more attractive to look at during the warmer months.
If you are not comfortable performing the maintenance or running short on time, you can always call in a professional.
NATURAL GAS OR PROPANE FIREPLACES
Doing these will ensure you are ready when cold weather hits:
Clean your glass using cleaner specially formulated for gas appliances. Don’t use ammonia based household cleaners as they will etch ceramic glass when heated and leave permanent damage. If your glass seems to get dirtier quicker than usual or leaves funny streaks on the glass, it is a sign that a tune up is required by gas technician.
Check your gaskets around the glass to ensure they are still soft and pliable. With age they harden and no longer provide a tight seal to keep the exhaust gases in and leak room air into the fireplace hence decreasing its performance.
Book your annual servicing by a licensed gas technician as recommended in your owner’s manual to maintain a valid warranty. There is a series of tests they perform to ensure your fireplace is operating at maximum efficiency. Technicians usually have more availability in the spring than fall, providing you more convenient scheduling. Any issues will be fresh in your memory helping technicians diagnose problems quicker.
WOOD BURNING FIREPLACE
Start by thoroughly cleaning your chimney with a chimney brush to remove corrosive creosote build up. If you are uncomfortable doing it yourself, call in a chimney sweep.
Then empty your ashes and clean your firebox with an ash vacuum or shop vac with a fine dust filter. While in the firebox, Inspect and replace any cracked or broken firebricks or baffles. These protect the steel firebox from overheating and warping while improving the life of your stove.
Next, check the condition of door seals and change gaskets if they feel at all crunchy and have lost their spring. They are meant to create tight seal around door and keep air out for better control and efficiency. If the fire seems to burn hotter than usual on same damper setting, or if your glass is getting dirtier than usual, or burning through wood sooner, then gaskets may be the culprit.
Finally clean your glass using cleaner dedicated to wood fireplaces, or use a damp paper towel with some ash soot to scrub followed by a clean moist damp paper towel and finally buff with a dry paper towel.
Once your fireplace or stove is prepped for the next season, start processing your firewood for next two seasons. Next year you only need to prepare wood for one season. Then you will be ahead of the game with guaranteed seasoned wood each year. The drier the wood, the more efficiently you extract heat from it when burning. Efficient burning saves wood meaning less chopping and stacking for you.
PELLET STOVES OR INSERTS
Always follow the manufacturer’s instruction in the owner’s manual for specific instructions as they vary by stove manufacturer. If in doubt, call us to book a professional cleaning and tune-up for your stove.
First, burn up all the pellets in the hopper and allow the stove to cool down. Then scrape the burn pot free of any clinker build up, remove the ashes, deep clean the firebox with an ash vacuum, removing baffles as needed. Next, check your gaskets to ensure they are still soft and pliable providing maximum sealing. If in question, replace. Follow up with a glass cleaning using a dedicated cleaner for wood/pellet stoves. Ammonia based house cleaners will etch the glass over time.
To clean the auger, open up the side panels to gain access. Service anything else within as recommended by the owner’s manual.
Finally, clean the venting with a chimney brush.
To ensure your next seasons supply of pellets, order your pre-season priced pellets in the spring, taking delivery and storing in the summer. Call us for details.