The Do’s and Don’ts of Wood Fireplaces

28th February 2020


Lopi Republic 1750

It may be hard to believe that we’ve officially changed from summer to autumn. If you are looking to install a wood fireplace or wood fireplaces in Sydney and you would like to have it done without waiting too long then now is the time to do it. No doubt, you are tossing up between the efficiency and reliability of gas against the wonderful feeling and ambience of a wood burning fireplace.

Wood burning fireplaces are iconic, magical and functional. A fireplace can quickly become the central place for families and friends to meet and gather on cold winter nights. There is nothing more therapeutic than sitting a few feet away from a fire and staring into those burning embers.

But you should also know that the failure to properly and effectively clean chimneys is a major contributor to house fires. Failing to exercise good wood fireplace maintenance is a major safety concern, especially over winter.

If you want to ensure that your wood burning fireplace is keeping your home warm and its occupants safe then you should take note of some of these suggestions.

Regularly clean inside your fireplace: Deposits of dirt, dust and ash can build up. If those combinations are left to just sit and fester then pretty soon its particles will be circulating in the air and you’ll be breathing them in. That’s not good for anybody, least of all people with respiratory, breathing or heart conditions. There is also a substance known as creosote which is used to treat some wooden surfaces. Creosote can be particularly damaging to humans if it’s not cleaned up and removed.

Cleaning your fireplace insert or fire grate can be a messy job. It’s best to get a professional to do the job for you. If you insist on doing it yourself start with your grate and a wet cloth. Moisture prevents the spreading of excessive amounts of ash and dust. After wiping down your fire grate it’s time to use your wet-dry vacuum to clean the base and walls of your fireplace. After that, clean the vacuumed areas with a wet cloth to clean away any remaining dust particles. For a final clean it’s good to use warm soapy water on the walls and the floors. Don’t forget to clean your fireplace screen and fire tools while you’re cleaning around your fireplace.

You should look for a buildup of internal or external grime. Grime can interfere with the flow of your chimney, as can chips or cracks in the masonry. A professional can identify and rectify before they become an issue.

It’s a great idea to install a heat proof glass door: Open fires can release embers or sparks and ignite some debris. Logs can be dislodged and roll from the fireplace. If there are flammable objects nearby then the results can be catastrophic. Even if the damage isn’t catastrophic, it could well damage your floorboards, lino or carpet or brush up against some furniture. A heat proof glass door will contain your fire and go very close to eliminating risk.

The other advantage of a heat proof glass door is the containment of heat. Open fireplaces are a big void with an opening above for air to escape freely. Glass doors will still push air into your room but it will also prevent it from escaping through your chimney.

If you want to make sure heat is circulating as efficiently as it can when your heat proof glass door are installed, install a fan near your fireplace to circulate the warm air. If you notice a build up of smoke: Clean your fireplace immediately. Smoke is a sure sign that soot, dust or debris has been building and that’s a danger sign.

Hardwood is the best wood for fireplaces. Oak, birch and ash tend to burn longer than softwoods. A tell tale sign is the cost of wood. If it’s cheap there’s a good chance that it’s probably not going to burn for long but that’s not always the best guide. Some cheap woods are treated and may include creosote which is definitely not a great thing. Cheap woods, like many other products, can be a false economy. For your wallet and the sake of the environment, it’s better to choose better quality timbers to burn.

Fireside fireplaces in Sydney is the Hills District’s premier retail outlet for Lopi, the world’s finest freestanding and inbuilt slow combustion wood and gas fireplaces. The Lopi republic 1750 wood stove is one of the most efficient alternatives to an open wood fireplace. 

Fireside are happy to answer any of your questions about fireplace maintenance and safety. As well as maintenance advice, if you call into Fireside fireplaces in Castle Hill they can take you through a range of fireplaces to suit the aesthetic and heating requirements of your home.