Whether you are renting a property or own your home with a fireplace it is important to maintain it. If you are renting, you may want to check with your landlord and arrange who will maintain your fireplace or stove in your home. It’s important to maintain the exterior of your stove and the internal chimney chute. As the winter months sneak in and the darker and colder nights continue, if you haven’t already gotten your chimney cleaned, it’s a good time to arrange it.
General Fire and Chimney Safety to maintain your fireplace
- Do not store wood next to your fire or stove as wood ignites easily.
- Ensure you are only burning dry wood, unseasoned or wood with moisture level over 20% should not be burned.
- Never burn household waste in your fire or stove
- Use fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
- Fire guards should be used when leaving the room or home unattended
- Burn the recommended fuel for your fireplace or stove
- Ensure your chimney chute is cleaned by a registered professional regularly
- If you have a back burner on your stove or fire place, make sure to clean and flues
How often should I get my chimney cleaned?
Depending on how often you use your fire and what fuel you burn, this will determine the regularity of getting your chimney swept. For peace of mind, a professional chimney sweep will remove any build-up of flammable soot and tar deposits within the chimney flue or fireplace/stove. Your chimney sweep will advise on how regular you should get your fire cleaned. A rough guide you can use is:
Smokeless fuels – At least once a year
Wood/Turf – Up to 4 times a year
Bituminous Coal – 2 times a year
Oil/Gas – once a year
Keeping your chimney clean will also maximise the efficiency of your fuel too. Remember to use a certified member of the CSAI (Chimney Sweeps Association of Ireland) who will provide a certificate when a sweep has been completed and all safety checks are approved. Some home insurance companies will ask for this certificate when taking out insurance or in the event of a claim.
How should I maintain my open fire?
- Over time the Grate on your open fire will need replacement, check this regularly and invest in a good brand that will last
- Ensure your fireside accessories are in good condition
- Clean the ashes from your fireplace after each use. Ashes should be cold before you remove them to your ash bucket. Be careful of any remaining coal that may still be hot among the ashes
- If you are revamping your open fire, make sure to use heat resistant spray if you are respraying the back of your fireplace from discoloration
- Clean away any soot that may appear on the fireplace surround with a damp cloth. If using a cleaning product, make sure it is non flammable
How should I maintain my stove?
There are two types of stove exteriors to choose from on the market at the moment. Stoves should be cleaned only when cold to avoid any burns.
The first option is an Enamel stove. This is a high gloss finish making it very easy to clean. Regularly wipe the enamel stove with a damp soapy cloth. Next, use a manufacturer approved polish along with a new dry and soft cloth to shine up the stove. Most manufacturers will sell their own brand of enamel cleaner/polish. Do not use any abrasive, wire pads or citric acid based cleaners to clean your enamel stove.
The second option is a Matt stove which follows a much simpler cleaning process. You only need a dry cloth to clean a Matt stove to remove any dust or dirt. It is important not to use any water as this can cause the stove to rust. The best thing about a matt stove is you can freshen up the paint when you need to. Use either a brush paint or spray to refresh your stove. It is very important to use a specific heat resistant paint especially for stoves as it must not be flammable. To prepare the surface before painting, use a grade one steel wool and brush down the cast iron evenly. To apply the paint use a paintbrush or spray evenly. Apply 2 – 3 coats if needed leaving overnight to dry between. When using the fire for the first time after painting, open a window as there can be a smell during the first use.
How should I clean the glass on my stove?
If you have glass panels on your stove, you can keep these clean when the fire is completely cool. Use a stove glass cleaner as recommended by the manufacturer or simply use soapy hot water with a cloth to clean the glass. If there are some harder stains, use a fine grade zero steel wool.
If there is a continued build-up of black stains occurring on your stove glass then you may have been using poor fuel causing creosote to build up on the glass. In order for the glass to self-clean/air wash system, you must be using a fuel that allows for a higher rate of burn and only close the vents when the fire is blazing.
Making maintenance of your fireplace or stove should be a regular thing during the months of the year you use it. Ensure you are safely cleaning your open fire or stove and storing your fuel correctly. If you are in doubt, contact a local professional chimney sweep to assist with any questions you may have. Now that you know how to safely maintain your fireplace, do you know how to protect your home from Carbon Monoxide?