Whether your fireplace is a wood-burning or gas-burning unit, it is important to take steps to prepare it for use in the cold months. Without these necessary precautions, improper use can lead to damages to the appliance, or worse, an accident can result. Follow these simple and helpful tips before the cold sets in.
- Have the appliance serviced by a qualified technician. Speaking from experience, this is one suggestion that gets ignored. Proper maintenance and cleaning can help the fireplace perform better, smell better, and also prevent damage. Even the glass must be cleaned annually to keep it looking clear. The airways of both the pilot orifice and main burners should be regularly cleaned to ensure that they are operating correctly. A general inspection of the entire system, including the safety controls and gas lines, is also beneficial to ensure they are working properly.
- Clean the blower fan if the fireplace is equipped with one. As dust accumulates on the blower blades, the blower will become unbalanced causing premature wearing of the bearings. The dust also insulates the motor, preventing it from being cooled and potentially causing it to seize up. Not to mention, you don’t want to circulate dust and dirt into your house!
- Replace the batteries in any remote transmitters and in some cases, in the receiver as well. Even when not in use, the power held in a battery is slowly depleted. This simple mishap could prevent operation of the fireplace. An unneeded service call could be avoided by following this step.
- Have the chimney cleaned before firing up your wood- burning fireplace, stove or insert. The number one cause of fires in wood-burning appliances is the result of creosote (unburned fuel) accumulations in the chimney leading to a chimney fire.
- Have any gaskets inspected and replaced as required, including those on the door; and if applicable on the ash dump. If a fireplace is operated without effective seals, excess air can leak into the firebox causing permanent damage to the appliance.
- Clean the blower fan if your wood-burning appliance is equipped with one. Unlike your furnace blower, it doesn’t have a filtering system to prevent the buildup of dust and hair. As dust accumulates on the blower blades, the blower will become unbalanced causing premature wearing of the bearings. The dust also insulates the motor, preventing it from being cooled and potentially causing it to seize up.
- Replace any broken or deteriorated brick lining in the wood-burning fireplace. If the brick lining is deteriorated to the point that the steel body is exposed, the heat from the fire can cause permanent damage to the firebox.
You may be able to perform most of these simple tasks yourself. If you are ever in doubt, contact your local fireplace technician or chimney sweep for help. Don’t forget, no matter the heating source in your home, be sure to test any smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace their batteries at least once a year!
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