A fireplace is both a great practical tool and a lovely addition to every truly cozy and inviting home. When used and maintained correctly, a good fireplace can be safely relied upon to keep your home a haven from even the harshest and most unforgiving winters for years to come. The key here of course, is regular fireplace maintenance.
But no fireplace is eternal. All of them require upkeep. And occasionally, problems with them can become severe enough to require the services and expertise of a professional. Calling on the pros to resolve certain fireplace maintenance issues is the smart thing to do.
Yes, there are things that everyone can and should do on his own to keep his fireplace humming along as best as possible as they years go buy – but not everything is a do-it-yourself fix.
The Original Flame Inc., a division of JRH Enterprises, is the home of a team of dedicated professionals ready to help you in exactly such situations. We are a fireplace store located in Peterborough that also offers fireplace sales, installation and maintenance services to customers in the northeastern Ontario region.
If you notice any of the signs we’re about to describe – give us a call. We’ll be happy to assist you with your fireplace maintenance needs.
Before we begin, we should pause to note that different kinds of fireplaces will exhibit different kinds of signs that they need repair. A gas fireplace or insert won’t be same as an electric one, and that won’t be the same as a traditional wood-burning setup. Therefore, as we discuss some of the different kinds of signals below, we’ll take care to specify which fireplace types each of them applies to.
With that, here are five signs that should make you think about calling in the pros in for your fireplace maintenance.
1. It’s Time For an Annual Inspection
Annual fireplace maintenance is an essential part of keeping your fireplace functioning properly. While specific maintenance tasks may differ depending on the type of fireplace you have, a yearly maintenance check from a qualified professional is a universal that applies to all types without exception. And as your fireplace gets older and its functioning comes under increased strain, the importance of this maintenance only increases.
Depending on the kind of fireplace you have, technicians will have to do different things during these checks. They might have to check your firebox for corrosion, look for cracks in your vents or simply clean out your louvers to prevent dust buildup. In any case, though, annual checks are important, and fireplace manufacturers always recommend scheduling them, even if nothing seems to be wrong with your unit. After serious problems can sometimes go undetected for a long time, and the sooner they are detected, the more effectively they can be dealt with.
2. You See White Staining on Your Chimney or Fireplace
If you have a wood fireplace and you see a white chalk-like substance building up on and around your masonry, call a technician right away. Generally, this is a surefire sign of excessive moisture buildup. It means that salts of various kinds have seeped into the bricks or the sheetrock in your walls or fireplace.
Simply cleaning off this white buildup will not accomplish anything, as the problem runs much deeper than these surface-level stains. A maintenance technician will have to inspect your masonry and your chimney to assess the full extent of the damage. Depending on his findings, he may recommend things like draining out the moisture from your walls. Or, in severe enough cases, totally tearing down and replacing your fireplace from the ground up.
An especially extreme case of this kind of moisture buildup is called spalling. This is when so much moisture or water enters into your masonry that it actually causes bricks to pop out and shift positions.
This is an extremely important issue to resolve. If you don’t, it can mean permanent damage to your walls or even your house as a whole. Left untreated, it may cause entire walls to collapse.
3. Shaling Is a Sure Sign You Require Professional Fireplace Maintenance
Shaling is a term that refers to the accumulation of flue tiles at the bottom of your chimney. The flue liner is a part of a chimney that is meant to direct smoke and heat to where they are supposed to go. It keeps your chimney from corroding and contain all of the combustible elements in the chimney and fireplace. It consists of special clay tiles. When these are broken or chipped off, your fireplace becomes vulnerable to the issues just mentioned. This means, among other things, that without a flue liner, your fireplace could inadvertently ignite a fire in your house.
Because of where the flue liner is located, it may be extremely difficult to spot this problem before it’s too late. It’s a good idea to have a special camera in place to watch the flue liner and help you see whether any tiling is crumbling off. A technician may actually install one of these for you during a maintenance checkup.
When you see shaling, call a technician over to replace your flue liner and fix the problem.
4. A Bad Smell
This is a broad indicator that could be a sign of trouble for any of the different fireplace types. It could mean many different things, but generally speaking, none of them are good. For electric fireplaces, it might be a sign of faulty or damaged wiring. For gas fireplaces, it might mean that you have a gas leak on your hands. In wood fireplaces, it could imply that some debris is stuck in your chimney and has been heating up without you knowing it.
Never ignore any unusual smells coming from your fireplace. Call a technician to deal with this problem as soon as you notice it. You’ll be sure to regret it if you don’t.
5. Your Fire is Uneven
This also is a sign that could potentially be present in any of the main types of fireplaces. If the flame in your wood fireplace isn’t burning evenly, you may have a problem. It could be a sign that your chimney may be either partially or totally clogged. Thus, the flames, heat and smoke are not able to diffuse properly. If you see the same issue in a gas or an electric fireplaces, it’s a sign that something is off about your heat distribution apparatus. Gas and electric fireplaces are supposed to channel heat relatively evenly through the various parts of your room or house. If this isn’t happening, something is a wrong and a technician should find out what that is.
To help you spot these and other potential problems, you should know as much as possible about the type of fireplace you have. To help you out with that, we have a useful FAQ that runs down some important information for each of the different kinds of fireplaces.
In a word, though, we advise you to remember that as great as DIY can be, some problems just require a professional touch. If you notice any of the things we’ve discussed happening as winter approaches, don’t worry. The Original Flame’s experienced technicians can set your fireplace right. They’ll make sure that you aren’t left out in the cold.