As spring encroaches, you’ll find your family using the wood burning fireplace less and less. With the wood stack dwindling, it’s important to know how to properly care for your fireplace at the end of the season alongside the tools and accessories that are used in conjunction with it.
Closing your fireplace:
The first and most obvious step is to clean your fireplace. Most homeowners can start by removing leftover ash or soot from the firebox with a small dustpan and broom. It is not recommended that you vacuum ash because even vacuums with HEPA filters do not adequately contain ash and can lead to soot and particulates going airborne and coating your furnishings, floors, and walls.
Instead of waiting for its next use, opt to have your chimney swept when you close it for the season. Some homeowners may attempt to do this themselves, however for a nominal fee a professional can ensure it is done correctly and completely. Afterall it is the most important step in preventing chimney fires, and one should never leave this to chance.
Have it Inspected
It’s never a bad idea to have your chimney inspected. A harsh winter could have done damage not visible to an untrained eye. It’s much easier to make minor repairs then wait for something to go horribly wrong.
Close the Damper
You should close the damper each time the fireplace is not in use, but it is especially important to remember this step when closing the fireplace for the season. Leaving the damper open can let summer heat inside the home and put a “damper” on your energy savings. Additionally, glass doors can also be installed for an extra seal.
When you close your fireplace for the season you can also take the extra step to clean your accessories. You can do this by removing grime and soot from the tools by rubbing them with a fine grade steel wool dipped in vegetable oil. An over the counter polish might also be available at your local hardware store to restore luster.
A brief overview of fireplace accessories available:
In most western cultures, fireplace accessories include grates, fireguards, andirons, log boxes, baskets, and “fire dogs” - all used to harbor and cradle the fuel (wood) to accelerate burning. Tools include pokers, bellows, tongs, and shovels as well as brushes and tool stands.
Many of these accessories have been around for centuries and date as far back as 1300 to 800 BC. It is believed that the first andirons were made from clay. Cast Iron and steel, many with ornamental brass displays became popular in Europe in the 1600-1800s. Elaborate andirons were used in ornamental fireplaces and featured beautiful designs by local artisans while the ones used in cooking fireplaces were plain, designed for function over opulence.