A wood burning fireplace is a nostalgic ideal that all other fireplaces aspire to. Given the choice, we reckon most people would choose to sit by a wood burning fire to relax, chill out, socialise. Other fuels have their advantages - the efficiency and convenience of gas, the spontaneity and portability of electricity. But if your home has a wood burning fireplace, the ambience is unbeatable. That said, you do have to work a bit harder with the upkeep. More than a little care and attention is needed to keep it clean, safe and at its best. But for many people, that can be part of the appeal: a wood burning fireplace as part of their lifestyle. So let’s have a look at the best ways to maintain a wood burning fireplace.
When you’re burning wood, you’ll need to get that solid fuel from somewhere. If you have access to your own timber from the garden, that’s great. But of course, you’ll still have to gather it, put it somewhere to dry, cut it and store it. Of course, you could have a regular delivery of logs, perhaps including a supply of readymade kindling that’s designed for quick start firefighting and is cut to size. But log deliveries still mean you need storage, and it must be dry and accessible. If you have a large number of logs delivered, you could always have a secondary storage place where you transport a week’s worth of logs to dry out. But log storage is a consideration.
With the fireplace itself, plan to do a regular clean to remove excess ash. A layer of about an inch of ashes is necessary for effective wood burning. It acts to insulate the base of the fire. Basic tools, such as a brush and shovel, will help you clean the hearth. Just be careful when disposing of hot ash, because it will melt domestic bins. Even when it’s cold, ash can be tricky. A breeze or accidental knock will send clouds of dust into the air, which you won’t want on the furniture and you won’t want to breathe in. Careful hearth cleaning comes with practice.
Keep your chimney swept annually to ensure optimal fire safety. The natural build-up of soot when you’re using your fireplace regularly can create a hazard. Get the fabric of the chimney checked professionally when you’re having it cleaned so that you can attend to any issues in good time before a more extensive (and expensive!) problem develops.
Finally, remember to take basic common sense precautions around fire safety at all times when you’re burning wood. In an open fireplace, embers can spit live sparks, and logs can break and fall apart within the hearth as they burn. You’ll need to ensure children, pets and other vulnerable individuals are kept at a safe distance, rugs and furniture are protected, and where necessary a fireguard is left in place. If your fireplace has glass doors this will help, but remember they can get extremely hot.
There’s so much to love about a wood burning fireplace. Just apply yourself to the routine of regular maintenance, take the steps you need to keep you safe, and you’ll have an effective and atmospheric heating solution to be proud of.