Dear Moss Building & Design,
We love building fires (we have a wood-burning fireplace) and want to be sure we are being safe. Any tips on fireplace maintenance?
Dear Dulles Mom,
We couldn’t agree more — about the love of a toasty fire on a cold day, safety is of utmost importance! Here are some tips for keeping your fireplace (and chimney) in top shape for the season:
1. Have your chimney inspected by a certified professional at least once a year to be sure it’s running properly!
2. Examine your chimney system (before building your first fire, and continually throughout the season). Check your grates and firebox to see if anything looks out of the ordinary. Also, examine the outside of your chimney for any crumbling bricks, vegetation, etc.
3. Clean the ashes in your fireplace as they accumulate — leave a base layer to help ignite your next fire but don’t allow build-up. We’d recommend cleaning every time before you build a new fire. Take the ashes you’ve cleaned up and store in a sealed, metal container and place them away from your home on a flat surface.
4. Make sure your damper is fully open before starting a fire, otherwise risking smoke into your home.
5. Only burn properly seasoned wood. Begin gathering wood at least 6 months before the start of the season to allow it to properly season. Don’t burn pressure-treated or painted wood.
6. Use the “top-down” method: large logs on the bottom, then smaller logs, then crushed newspaper, then kindling. This method burns hotter and cleaner than other methods.
Hope this helps — be safe and enjoy your fires this season!