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Maintaining Your Outdoor Fireplace

Before you enjoy that first blaze in your outdoor fireplace this spring, remember to check it over for repairs and routine maintenance!

We're going to show you exactly what to look for, with a little help from our very own American Fyre Designs models!

 May 3, 2018    Safety & Maintenance, Keeping It Clean

Maintaining Your Outdoor FireplaceIt's so tempting to light up your outdoor fireplace as soon as the first warm days of spring push through the cold of winter. But for you and your family's safety, we encourage you to check over your fireplace for any repairs and routine maintenance.  

To give you a visual example, we took some pictures of our own outdoor fireplaces right here at Fireplace Doors Online. They are the Phoenix and Petite Cordova by American Fyre Designs. They have shown their quality with no apparent cracking or general deterioration of the concrete over the past 10 years. 

GENERAL OUTDOOR FIREPLACE MAINTENANCE

Before you light up the fireplace for the first time this summer season, make sure you check the following first:

  • Fireplaces can be affected by the ground settling, even if it's on a patio or concrete slab. During the winter, the ground freezes, thaws, and refreezes, causing the soil to shift and moving anything on top of it. This can cause masonry to become unstable, crack, or crumble.

  • Cracking can also be caused by constant exposure to the sun and heat. This dries out the materials over time, making them brittle and easy to chip or crack.

  • Too much water can affect them as well in areas with a lot of rain and snow. The components will repeatedly absorb the water and dry out, weakening the materials as a cookie dipped in milk, crumbling at the corners and mortar lines.

  • As plant life begins to grow again with the warmer weather, make sure to maintain, trim, and cut back the area around your outdoor fireplace as it can be a fire hazard. And any vines that cling to the fireplace walls can cause structural damage. As you can see in the image below, we will need to clear the dry brush away from around our own outdoor fireplace.
  • If your outdoor fireplace is made of stone or concrete-like ours, it may be showing some weather stains. Baking soda cleaning solutions are a DIY cleaning miracle for removing dirt, stains, and brightening up stone, mortar, and grout. 
  • Inspect all operational parts of the fireplace: the chimney flue, exhaust fan, smoke guards, burners for clogs or malfunctions, pilot lights, and gas lines for leaks.

Upkeep throughout the season:

  • Use a vacuum or shop vac to clean off any debris from the fireplace mesh curtains. You'd be surprised how much dust, soot, pollen, and spider webs can build up on the mesh in one summer.

Keep the area around your outdoor fireplace clear of plants   Phoenix Outdoor Fireplace   Petite Cordova Firebox

ZERO CLEARANCE OUTDOOR FIREPLACES

Before any cleaning or maintenance is done on your outdoor gas fireplace, please make sure that the gas is turned off.

  • Gas burners can be cleaned with a soft bristle brush and cloth, making sure that the burner holes are clear of any debris. Gas logs also benefit from a little bristle brush cleaning to remove any soot and ash build-up about once a month while they are actively being used. Take care to follow any cleaning and care instructions provided in the manual for the product so as to not void the warranty.

  • In zero clearance/ prefab outdoor fireplaces, the firebox panels may crack or become damaged over time. Luckily, these panels are simply screwed into the firebox, making them easy to remove and replace. Although a little custom sizing may be required.

  • How is the black metal exterior of the firebox holding up against exposure to the sun? Is it starting to look faded? Consider giving it a new coat of paint with our high-temperature fireplace paint. Simply clean off the area you wish to paint, protect the surrounding surfaces with painters tape and GO!

  • What type of ignition system does your outdoor gas fireplace have? Remote controlled systems should be checked often to make sure the batteries and wires haven't gone bad. These are the first to corrode when exposed to the outdoor elements. Burners are also very exposed to the elements in the fireplace opening and will also become defective over time. Both should be inspected by a professional contractor on a regular basis. (Once a year)

  • Now for the big one: LEAKING GAS.

Anytime maintenance is required for any of the gas parts for your zero clearance outdoor fireplace, for safety reasons, we always recommend a licensed contractor inspect and replace any bad parts. Especially when it comes to dealing with gas leaks.

 

WOOD BURNING OUTDOOR FIREPLACESPhoenix Outdoor Fireplace firebox

  • Many log grates come with lifetime warranties but that doesn't mean they don't deserve a little TLC every now again. A little bit of cleaning can go a long way. Just hose it down and remove any soot build up with a wire brush.

  • To remove any soot and ash from the firebox, it's best to use a vacuum or shop vac. Using a broom brush will stir up all the dust, which isn't healthy for you to be breathing in. Plus it can leave your firebox looking dirtier than before from smearing around the soot.

    • Please make sure the ash is cold before cleaning it up. It is best to wait a few days after using the fireplace to clean it.
  • Burn hardwoods. Not greenwood and softwoods.

    • Quick biology lesson. Softwoods are usually your coniferous, needle bearing trees like pines, hemlocks, cedars, and spruce trees. Greenwood is freshly cut wood from living, healthy trees. Both softwoods and greenwood have a high level of water in the wood which releases a lot of smoke when they are burned, causing a larger amount of soot to build up than if you were to use seasoned, hardwood logs.

  • Speaking of soot build-up, you should really consider having the chimney and flue cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. Learn all about preventing chimney fires here.

  • If you have a log lighter, does it need to be replaced? Their average outdoor lifespan is about 8-10 years before they begin to rust and deteriorate.

Chimney covers and fireplace doors are great for keeping out water, snow, leaves, and animals when your outdoor fireplace is not in use or shut down for the winter and extending its overall life. Most of the outdoor fireplaces from Fireplace Doors Online have options for covers.

Last updated on September 21st 2020.

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About the Author:

Selese is a content writer, blogger, graphic designer, and media producer for Fireplace Doors Online. She has a degree in Writing from the University of Pittsburgh and is a former Editor-and-Chief of the literary magazine, Baily's Beads. She lives in Youngsville, PA  and enjoys traveling to Renaissance Faires, antiquing, and sharing random facts about Kpop music.

 

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