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Hearth Care Made Easy Season-by-Season
Nothing transforms a home from chilly to cozy quite like a crackling fire. Sipping your favorite drink, snuggled up with your loved ones to watch the flickering firelight is the perfect way to keep warm when the cold winds blow. In order to make sure you and your family are enjoying that fire safely, it’s important to properly care for your hearth and fireplace or wood stove.
Whether this is your first home and you’re looking for a soup-to-nuts essentials list or you can start a roaring fire in your sleep, here is a season-by-season list to track and organize your hearth care.
Spring – Clean & Inspect
The weather is finally warming up and it’s time to put your fireplace to rest after a long season of providing warmth and comfort during the long, cold winter.
Start by closing the flue. Quick and easy, this ensures nothing goes out (A/C) or in (pests and debris) that you aren’t ready for.
Next, call your local chimney sweep to give your chimney a good scrubbing to remove the highly flammable creosote that can build up with frequent fires. Often times, they will do an inspection of your chimney for potential damage or wear that you’ll want to address during the off-season.
*For gas burning inserts, call your gas supplier to schedule an inspection and cleaning. Turning off your pilot light is not necessary, but absolutely can be done. Be sure to also turn off the gas source before you put out the pilot light.
Get out your deep cleaning kit! Take some time to give your hearth a thorough vacuuming, scrubbing, polishing and inspection. Pay attention to any brick/tiles and their grout. If you notice any chips or gaps that need to be addressed, make a plan to get that done by fall.
Lastly, turn to your hearth equipment. Make note of any tools that need repaired or replaced and any supplies that will need to be restocked. Once this is done, store any non-essential items for the off-season away so you can enjoy a thoroughly cleaned and organized hearth.
Summer – Preparing for
Time to complete any repairs and stock up on your fuel!
Now is the time to address any necessary repairs and order (or collect and prepare) your fuel for the winter months. First you’ll need to calculate how much fuel you’ll need for the season. A handy rule you can use to estimate is you’ll need 3 cords per 1,000 sq. ft. you heat with firewood. Compare this estimate against past years and the predicted winter weather report from your favorite almanac to get a realistic idea of how much wood you’ll need this year.
Next, figure out how much wood you can reasonably store. A cord of wood equates to a stack of wood 8’L x 4’D x 4’H or roughly 128 cu. ft. Once you know how much you need, you can evaluate whether you have enough space to stack appropriately, or if you need to purchase or build more racks. Be sure that your firewood storage area is far away enough from your home to prevent pests, who may want to nest in your wood pile, from migrating indoors to enjoy your toasty warm house. It also needs feature good airflow and coverage to keep your wood dry.
Once you know how much wood you need and where you’ll store it, there are a few options to consider. If you are a do-it-yourselfer or enjoy the exercise, get a load of unsplit wood and work your way through the pile over the summer months. If you are simply looking to stack it until you need it, be sure to request cords of split firewood from your wood source.
Ensure you are buying seasoned wood for this year. If you have enough space to store it, you can buy green, unseasoned wood and let it “season” or dry out for at least 9 months prior to burning.
*If you use a gas insert, be sure to call and schedule any tank fill ups and check the batteries on your pilot light starter and, if you have one, remote starter.
Fall – Final Touches
Now is the time to tie up any loose ends by finishing any remaining repairs, ensure you’ve got a healthy stock of essential supplies and pull out any stored tools and place them by your hearth.
Our list of fire safety must-haves includes:
For easy and enjoyable wood-burning, go one step further and add our
Hearth Essential tools & equipment:
If you haven’t done it recently, now is the perfect time to test all smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries and replace as needed.
Winter - Get Cozy!
Now that you’ve done all the work, it’s time to open your flue, build a fire and enjoy a hot cup of tea or cocoa!
Hearths are a wonderful addition to any home and, like most worth-while things, they require some regular maintenance to ensure you’ll enjoy them for a long time to come. This season-by-season guide helps to keep you and your family cozy and warm throughout the winter.