Proper Use & Maintenance of wood-burning fireplaces
Initial Lighting Procedures
- Be sure fireplace grate is pushed to the back of the fireplace.
- Check the fireplace damper to be sure it is completely opened.
- Clear all ashes from the top of the burner box of gas starter if your unit has that option.
- Strike a long match or use a long lighter and hold the flame near the burner box before turning the gas on. This will eliminate the build-up of gas and risk of sudden combustion.
- Burn the gas starter for approximately 4 minutes to warm the flue and create a positive draft before loading the fireplace with wood.
- If no gas starter-twist a sheet of news paper and light it, holding it as high up in the fireplace as possible. Once the smoke is being drawn up the chimney, slowly move the burning paper down and use it to ignite the kindling.
- THINK SMALL-start with wood like you are building a campfire.
- After warming the flue, place dry, seasoned hardwood, such as oak or hickory, on the fireplace grate.
- The first five fires should be relatively small. That is, only one or two logs maximum, to allow the firebrick in the unit to cure. Only after curing the firebrick is your unit ready for standard use.
- Be sure not to build excessively large fires and never burn pine, building scraps, garbage, or composite logs. Any of these can cause excessive creosote build-up and accelerate deterioration of the firebrick.
- Over time, hairline cracks will develop in the firebrick. This is normal and does not affect the safety or operation of the fireplace. If the brick begins deteriorating, it is available as a replacement part.
- Glass doors are available for your fireplace and are highly recommended. Their use prevents valuable heated air from escaping up the chimney as the fire is extinguished. They will also prevent sparks from damaging your carpet.
- Be advised that a specific set of doors has been tested and approved by the manufacturer for your fireplace and only that model should be used. Any other model could restrict air flow around the unit causing it to overheat and becoming a fire hazard.
Keep Fireplaces Clean
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
- Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
- Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
- Keep air inlets open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.
Safely Burn Fuels
- Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
- Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
- Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace.
- When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home.
Protect the Outside of Your Home
- Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet away from your home.
- Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris.
- Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester.
- Remove branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents
Protect the Inside of Your Home
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms.
- Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.
- Extend all vent pipes at least three feet above the roof.