If you have a wood burning fireplace in your yard, it is critical to preserve this great entertainment spot of your house, thereby retaining its functionality and striking appearance. A well-maintained outdoor hearth can allow you to spend many years of fun, leisure, and comfort with your family and guests.
Here are four valuable tips to keep your outdoor fireplace operating at its best.
1. Look for Signs of Damage
Since outdoor chimneys are exposed to various environmental changes, the risk of damage to the primary hearth structure is high. This is especially true for hearths made of concrete, natural stones, brick, rock, or stucco where the foundation may crack, crumble, or shift due to sudden changes in the weather or heavy rainfall and snow.
Damage to the chimney structure increases the risk of a chimney fire. Further, a defective hearth is unable to send the smoke up the chimney, causing whuffing or back puffing of the poisonous fumes into the sitting area.
Installing smoke guards and weatherproof exhaust fans can help tackle this issue. However, it is wise to contact your local chimney sweep who can identify and address the root cause of this annoying problem.
2.Maintain the Hearth Surrounds
Overgrowth of plants and creepers near the fireplace increases the risk of fire accidents and injury. Further, creepers attaching to the hearth eventually cause cracks in the primary structure, thereby damaging it.
Make sure all the plants and foliage around your hearth are trimmed and kept away from the main structure. Get rid of dried leaves, twigs, and other plant debris before using the outdoor hearth.
Talk to a professional landscape contractor who can offer you effective advice on creating a charming sitting area around the hearth while ensuring your safety.
3.Burn Only the Best
Any wood will produce heat, right? Wrong! Though it may be tempting to burn anything for generating heat, it is wise to use the right kind of wood, ensuring optimum fireplace efficiency and keeping your hearth in a good condition.
Use mature or seasoned wood to light your outdoor hearth. This will not only improve the efficiency of your fireplace, but also reduce the creosote build up in the chimney. You can tell green wood from the mature one by tapping two pieces together. Green and moist wood will produce a dull sound while mature wood will create a sharp sound.
Further, when starting a fire, layer a pile of hardwood (Cherry, Maple, Ash, Oak, and Birch) and softwood (Fir, Pine, Spruce, Cedar, and Poplar) in the hearth. This will ensure maximum output and a slow-finish burn.
4.Sign up for an Annual Chimney Sweep Service
Whether indoor or outdoor, wood-burning fireplaces need regular maintenance and repair. Reputed chimney sweeps specialize in inspecting, repairing, and cleaning the chimney, thereby keeping your hearth in optimum working condition.
Further, an annual chimney inspection is vital to identify the defects and get rid of the harmful creosote build up, thereby reducing the risk of hazardous chimney fires. Outdoor fireplaces with creosote thickness of 1/8th of an inch or more should be cleaned before use to avoid accidents.
Several cities in the U.S. receive rainfall all through the year. In such cases, it is critical to waterproof the outdoor hearth and chimney to prevent seepage and leaks. Cities like Portland, Cleveland, and Seattle, among others receive rain and snow for more than 130 days a year. Thus, if you live in Portland, it is wise to hire a Portland chimney sweep to pre-emptively manage the moisture damage to the chimney structure, thereby avoiding costly repairs later on.
Besides cleaning your fireplace of the debris, an annual chimney sweep service will offer critical services like waterproofing and repairing the damaged bricks, liner deterioration, cracked mortar, and leakages if any.
An outdoor fireplace is an attractive and sought-after feature of a residential property. If you have a fireplace in your yard, make sure you maintain it using the aforementioned tips, keeping your hearth in a healthy working condition. A clean and well-maintained outdoor fireside will allow you and your guests to spend comfortable and fun times together without having to bother about fire hazards.
About Author: Jesse Peralta is the president of Chimcare Portland, provides services such as chimney repair, chimney caps, portland chimney sweep, masonry repair, and brick walkway and air duct cleaning.