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Wood-burning Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance

Proper use and maintenance of a woodburning fireplace is an important part of the safety, efficiency, aesthetics, and long life of your appliance.

Time Needed: 30 minutes
Frequency: Varies by use, see below
Number of steps: 3
Tools you might need: gloves, flashlight
Skill level: moderate

Step 1: Inspect For Damage

Masonry chimneys should be kept in good condition, with tuck-pointing of brick and stone, and repair of top cap cracks done as needed by a qualified professional. See also: Appliance Vent Maintenance

Step 2: Proper Operation

Burn well seasoned wood, 1 to 2 seasons of curing after being cut and split. Glass doors help save energy. WARNING!!! Factory Built Metal fireplaces are designed to use only glass doors listed and approved by the manufacturer of that fireplace. Check your fireplace manual for details. The use of a wood burning fireplace insert in your fireplace can significantly improve the efficiency, comfort, and heating capabilities of you fireplace. Good inserts require an appropriate chimney liner installed inside the tile liner for safe and effective use. See also: Dealing with Moisture Sources in Living Room

Step 3: Plan Ahead For Cleaning

Check for soot and creosote build-up in smoke dome area above damper several times a season, or after about every ten fires. If the deposits are 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, the chimney should be cleaned. For casual usage, less than once or twice per month, chimneys may need cleaning every 1 to 3 years. For regular use, once per week or more, clean at least once per season, preferably before the heating season begins. Periodic cleaning and inspections by a CSIA certified Chimney Sweep are recommended.


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This website offers suggestions for how you should properly maintain and operate your home. However, you should always refer to your builder warranty, maintenance and homeowner manual documents for the specific operation and maintenance requirements for your individual home and its equipment.