One of the things most people forget about when winter ends is cleaning out the fireplace. It is so easy to slide into spring and neglect to take proper care of the fireplace and chimney. But spring passes, summer arrives, and before anyone knows it, fall is back begging for a roaring fire in the fireplace.
Fireplace maintenance in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin
If they are not properly maintained, fireplaces are potential sources for house fires, so it is important for people to spend a little time taking care of fireplaces in St. Paul, where the cold weather lasts a bit longer than in other places. Chimney fires from built up creosote, smoke escaping into the room, and back-drafting of carbon monoxide are potential dangers with improperly maintained fireplaces.
Cleaning, maintenance, and a little extra help go a long way toward safety and enjoyment of a wood burning fireplace:
- At least once a year, and definitely when a person first moves into a home, they should enlist the services of a professional chimney sweep. In 2000 the National Fire Protection Association adopted three descriptive levels into Code NFPA 211 that defined what happens in a chimney inspection by a certified chimney professional.
This code is the basis for chimney professionals who are trained and certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America, and chimney sweeps are tested at all three inspection levels. Each inspection level covers certain items, depending on the homeowner’s type and construction of fireplace.
In a Level 1 inspection, the chimney professional will examine the chimney’s exterior and evaluate the soundness of the exterior structure, the flue, and the connection. A Level 1 inspection also verifies that the chimney is clear of obstructions such as animal nests, leaves, and combustible deposits. A fireplace inspection checks liners, smoke chamber and firebox.
The chimney sweep professional may also do a video inspection of a fireplace to detect water damage that may need repairing.
- If a fireplace is used often, at least once week the firebox needs to be cleaned of dirt, ashes, and other debris.
- The hearth needs to be vacuumed or dusted weekly, but must be done at least 12 hours after a fire is extinguished. A regular vacuum s not designed to pick up ashes, and can be destroyed if ash pickup is attempted. Sprinkling damp coffee grounds on the ashes keeps down the dust.
- Fireplaces often leave a smoky odor in a room that can be unpleasant and even harmful to someone with asthma. An air purifier can take out most, if not all, of the smoky odor and particulate matter.
Choose and air purifier without ozone, as ozone has been proven to be damaging to the lungs. The best air purifiers contain carbon, zeolite, and potassium permanganate. With these ingredients, they will adsorb pollutants and odors. They also remove formaldehyde from the air, which is often a byproduct of burning wood.
A well maintained fireplace in St. Paul can be a source of pleasure. Even the chemically sensitive and asthmatic homeowners can enjoy it if an air purifier is part of the fireplace equipment.