opened electric fireplace

The fireplace is often the center of the home and brings much pleasure and warmth to the family year after year. But even the best fireplace or fireplace insert can have problems from time to time. 

Fortunately, keeping your fireplace in good repair is easy if you avoid the issues below.

Not Thinking About Safety First

When you light the fireplace, it’s important to think about safety first. Make sure the fireplace is in good working order at the start of the season. Have it checked regularly, meaning at least every quarter.

Also, if it’s a wood-burning fireplace, you should only use hardwoods for burning. Using softwoods can lead to a cool, smokey fire that will build up creosote and could introduce smoke into the home. 

The firewood you use should be seasoned and dried for several months before you burn it. 

Buildup of Creosote After Years of Use

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you’re able to enjoy the natural warmth and aroma of a wood fire year after year. But if you fail to clean your chimney, creosote could become a huge problem. 

Creosote is a black, hard substance similar to hardened tar that collects when smoke from the firewood gets cooler and condenses. It’s a particular problem when the fire isn’t hot enough and makes a lot of smoke. 

If creosote collects in the chimney over the years, it can reduce airflow and cause smoke to enter the home. Creosote can catch fire when it builds up too much, so it’s important to have the chimney cleaned every year. 

Also, be sure the chimney has a good draft, so creosote doesn’t form. 

Pilot Light Won’t Stay On 

If you have a gas fireplace, there’s something called the thermocouple that makes the gas follow your pilot light when combustion is occurring. This happens by sending a minute amount of electricity to the gas valve when there’s heat so the valve will stay open. 

If the pilot light stays on for seconds and then goes out, you probably have a bad thermocouple. It could be the thermocouple isn’t set up right, or it may not be secured correctly. 

Be sure every wire, screw, and tubing is properly connected so the problem will desist. 

Ashes Aren’t Removed

You should clean the firebox thoroughly after every fire. If you let ashes pile up, it can affect the air quality in your house. 

It helps to place coffee grounds over the wood ashes before sweeping them up to prevent dust from entering the house. Also, clean off the fireplace walls with your favorite hearth cleaner to lower the amount of soot buildup. 

Failing to Follow Local Codes

Most cities and municipalities have special codes governing the installation and use of fireplaces. Also, there are national codes that cover safety and installation. It’s important that you never ignore these regulations. 

Whether you purchase a vented gas, non-vented gas, pellet, or wood-burning fireplace, you should find out what the rules are for installation. 

If you ignore the codes for your area, you could be fined or experience serious issues.

Having a fireplace in the home is one of the best things you can imagine. A fireplace creates warmth and ambiance in your living area that is the perfect focal point for guests and family.

Follow these safety tips and pointers, and you’ll have years of trouble-free, enjoyable use from your fireplace. 

About the author

Kyrie Mattos