Enjoy a fire in the North Georgia Mountains

Enjoy a fire in the North Georgia Mountains

 As you may know wintertime up here in the North Georgia Mountains can get pretty darn cold. That means people are using there wood burning fireplaces a lot more too. Here are some helpful tips on cleaning, discarding ashes, and proper use of the flue.

 Cleaning the ashes:

If you have a wood burning fireplace you know that the byproduct is ash. It is actually good to have a 1 inch layer of ash on the floor of the firebox during the regular heating season because it makes it easier to build and maintain a fire. However if the ash in your fireplace is so deep that it is coming in contact with the bottom of your grate it’s time to clean it as the ashes can cause the grate to burn out prematurely. It is also necessary to clean out your fireplace at the end of the heating season as the ashes have the potential to draw moisture that can cause rusting of the metal components.

1) Get rid of the ash.  After the ash has cooled for at least 4 days scoop out the ash by hand and discard the ashes outside ideally in a metal trash container. Never put the ashes in paper and keep the ashes away from your house as they still have a chance of catching on fire.

2) Clean smoke stains.  If you have smoke stains on your fireplace begin by squirting them with water ( It will keep the cleaning solution from soaking in too fast, this is particularly important with brick). Dip a brush in a solution of 1/4 cup all-purpose cleaner to 1 gallon water to give spots a quick scrub, rinse with a clean sponge and let dry. For marble or other stones squirt with water then go over with a soft cloth dipped in mild dishwashing liquid and water. Rinse and wipe dry.

 * Note*  If brick is more than 50 years old it could crumble if you scrub it with a cleaner. Just vacuum the surface with your soft-brush attachment.

 Chimney Cleaning:  

There is no set rule how often you should clean your chimney however the problem is creosote can build up when wood is burned. A fire without enough oxygen emits lots of unburned tar vapors that can condense inside the flue and stick to it possibly leading to a chimney fire.  You can check for creosote yourself. First make sure there’s no downdraft from the chimney. Then, while wearing goggles and a disposable dust mask take a flashlight and your fireplace poker and scratch the black surface of the smoke chamber. If the groove you scratch in the creosote is paper thin then no cleaning is needed. If it’s 1/8 inch thick or more schedule a cleaning soon.

 Using The Chimney Flue:

When starting your fire open the chimney flue to create a large blaze. Once the fire is at full blast adjust the flue on the chimney closing it as much as possible without forcing smoke from the fire back into the room. When your fire is burning the flue must always be partially open as the products of combustion contain hazardous and noxious gasses. One of the hazardous gasses your chimney needs to remove from your home is carbon monoxide which escapes through your flue. Once your fire is completely out and no longer smoking it is safe to close the flue.

 *Note* Always keep the flue closed when the fireplace is not in use as you don’t want to get any animals in your house such as birds or squirrels.

Feel fee to call Complete Home Services with any cabin maintenance questions you may have.

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