Get your fireplace ready for winter with these tips

Napoleon Fireplace

Fireplaces can be unsafe and inefficient if they are not properly maintained.

It’s been warmer than normal in Ontario this fall. We’ve had very little snow and only a handful of days have dipped below zero. That doesn’t mean it’s going to last though. With the first day of winter (and Christmas) around the corner, it’s likely many people will be sparking up a yule log in the coming days.

But fireplaces can be unsafe and inefficient if they are not properly maintained. So, before you burn your house down or injure yourself (yes, I’m being overly dramatic), follow these tips from Napoleon Fireplaces on preparing your wood burning or gas fireplace before lighting it up.

Wood burning

If you have a wood burning stove or insert, have the chimney cleaned. The leading cause of fires from wood burning appliances is the result of creosote (unburned fuel) that has accumulated in the chimney.

Have the gaskets around the door, the door glass and in some cases the ash dump inspected. If an airtight appliance is operated without these gaskets effectively sealing the openings, excess air can leak into the firebox creating conditions that may permanently damage the appliance.

If your wood burning appliance is equipped with a blower, clean it. These blowers do not have filters to prevent dust and hair from building up in the blower.

Replace any broken or deteriorated brick lining inside the wood burning stove or insert. While cracks are not a concern, if  the steel body of the brick lining is exposed the heat from the fire can cause permanent damage to the stove or insert.

Gas Burning

If you have a gas burning fireplace, have the appliance serviced by a qualified technician.

Cleaning can help prevent permanent damages from occurring (even the glass must be cleaned annually). Dust, hair and insects can impair the performance of gas burning fireplaces. The airways of both the pilot and main burners should be regularly cleaned to ensure that they are operating correctly and a general inspection of the entire system, including the safety controls, is also a good idea.

gas-fireplace

If your gas burning fireplace is equipped with a blower, clean it. Like wood burning stove and insert blowers, blowers on gas burning appliances don’t have a filter to prevent dust and hair from building up. As the dust accumulates on the blower blades, the balance of the blower will change, causing premature wearing of the bearings. The dust also insulates the motor; preventing it from being cooled and can eventually cause the motor to cease up.

If you have a remote or transmitter for your gas burning fireplace, check the batteries to ensure they are working.

Be extra safe

Always call a professional if you’re not comfortable doing your own maintenance or inspection on either a gas fireplace or wood burning stove or insert.

Before lighting a wood burning or gas fireplace, it’s a good idea to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly. Replace the batteries or the entire unit if it has expired.

Have anything else to say about fireplace preparation or maintenance? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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