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Nothing cheers you up on a cold day like sitting with a cup of cocoa in front of a warm fire. Cooler weather is right around the corner and now is the time to maintain your fireplace to make sure it’s in good working order.

It’s not just about keeping your place clean and functioning at full efficiency; a plugged chimney can be a health hazard. These simple tips will keep your family’s fireplace burning brightly and safely.

Wood Fireplace Maintenance

A natural wood-burning fireplace with the wondrous sound and sight of crackling logs can be a fantastic addition to any home. Unfortunately, these types of fireplaces are also the toughest to clean and maintain! Here’s how you do it:

Check the exterior of the fireplace for cracks or other damage.  Catching these things early is best to prevent further wear and tear. If you don’t have access to a professional fireplace cleaning company, cleaning the chimney can be quite a project. You’ll need to check the flu for any obstructions from debris, nests, leaves or other natural items.

Shovel out the ash and debris or use a vacuum cleaner. Scrub the fireplace with soapy water. If you’re dealing with old bricks, don’t go at it too hard – you might actually weaken the structure of the brick. Don’t forget to clean the fireplace accessories, like tongs. They can be washed normally.Finally, clean the hearth with a damp rag.

Electric Fireplace Maintenance

Electric fireplaces aren’t just easy to use – just flick a switch and you’ve got heat – they’re also very easy to take care of. That said, when a problem does crop up, you’ll probably need an electrician to fix it. Oh well. At least you don’t have to hire a chimney sweep!

First, check to see that all of the electrical components you can see (wires and connectors) are in good shape. If they’re looking frayed, you could have a problem needing an electrician (and you may be dealing with a pest as well – some of them like to chew through wires!). Dust and wipe with soap and water. Be careful around the electrical components – electricity and dampness definitely do not mix.

Gas Fireplace Maintenance

Gas fireplaces, like electric fireplaces, are relatively easy to maintain. However, since blocked vents can prevent carbon monoxide from escaping, it is also critically important to take care of your fireplace to avoid a safety issue.

  • Is your pilot light on? If it’s not on or your fireplace doesn’t light after a few tries, light it.
  • Check that the gas valve is turned off.
  • Check the logs, lines and burner equipment for cracks or other damage.
  • Clean the glass with a window cleaner and wipe it with a damp rag.
  • Check the vents. If there is anything blocking them like dry leaves, remove it. This is important for safety.

Set aside a little bit of time to clean and maintain your fireplace, so you can have a worry-free experience with your loved ones – and don’t be afraid to call the professionals if you need help. Chimney sweeps and electricians are just a phone call away!

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.