Most American homes have a fireplace and get to enjoy the ambiance of a dancing flame or the extra heat during the cold months, but that fireplace comes with a lot of work. Unless you have an electric fireplace, it’s important to keep up with annual maintenance and repairs. (You have a stove, not a fireplace? Not a problem! Click on this link to for stove maintenance products!.)
In many cases you can keep your fireplace and chimney healthy all year around with some great DIY projects. Catching a problem early can prevent it from growing into something bigger or endangering your family, so don’t put it off! Check out our maintenance products and learn a little more about your fireplace and chimney maintenance below!
This is actually serious and not really a job for a DIYer. If you’ve noticed a crack in the hearth of your fireplace, it’s time to call in the professionals. There are many reasons this may have happened, such as:
Regardless of why your hearth is cracked, it’s important that you have it evaluated and go from there. Sometimes it means that you can’t use your fireplace until it has been repaired, and sometimes it means that it’s dangerous to stay in your home. This is a maintenance issue that you absolutely cannot neglect.
A firebox is the part of your fireplace where the actual fire is. While a hearth sits in front of the fireplace, the fire box is a chamber where your burning material—wood, typically, or gas—produces heat. For the safety of your loved ones and the property, it’s important to make sure that your firebox is in good shape.
The first step to checking your firebox is ensuring that it’s clean. You can’t see any damage caused by heat, buildup or the fire when everything is cleared away. If you notice any kind of damage at all, DO NOT use your fireplace until it is fixed!
One of the most common problems we see inside a firebox is cracks. These develop over time with natural use, but they can lead to very serious problems and are a fire hazard. This can range from being a minor, easy fix to something much more involved and a job for professionals. Let’s see what kind of repair you need:
Is it just the mortar between bricks? If your bricks are still fine but the mortar is cracked, you can remove the old mortar and replace it with fire putty. We recommend A. W. Perkins' Fire Putty Cement as it can easily withstand the high temperatures in your firebox.
In the case of damaged fire bricks, it’s best to consult with a professional. You can do some repairs yourself, but it is better to get the opinion of a contractor or another professional in the industry as too much damage may mean that the wall may need to be completely rebuilt. For smaller, easier fixes we have another product by A. W. Perkins: Castable Fire Brick. This fire brick is great for smaller projects that your contractor has given you the go-ahead to turn into a fireplace DIY project.
When it comes to your fireplace surround, it’s important to know national fire codes. The National Fire Protection Association states that combustible material—that is, a wood surround or any flammable trim—needs to be at least 6 inches away from your firebox. When there are protruding parts, such as the mantel, include an extra inch for every 1/8 inch away from the wall.
Once you are certain your fireplace surround is up to code, check it for any heat. Your fireplace surround shouldn’t be hot to the touch. If it is, this can indicate a problem with your fireplace. If the firebox checks out as well as the chimney (see below), then it’s time to talk to a professional. If it’s just a fireplace facelift you need, check out our selection of fire brick stain!
Anytime your chimney looks like its seen better days means that it probably has and it needs attention. Fortunately, this is something you can do yourself!
With time comes age when it comes to home maintenance and the same applies to your chimney. Weather, wind and everything else that Mother Nature throws at your house has been chipping away at your chimney and while it may be a minor issue at first, it can develop into a more serious problem later on.
The most common complain that home owners have with their chimney is cracking and chipping of the mortar between the bricks, followed closely by cracking bricks themselves. Just like a firebox, with the exterior of the chimney you have to chip away the damaged material, be it mortar or brick, and replace it with new. Check out our mortar and adhesive selection to see how we can help when it comes to fixing the outside of your chimney!
But what if your chimney is unstable or leans?
This isn’t really a DIY fix. At this point It’s best to call in a professional who can evaluate exactly what it’ll take to get your chimney safe again. Though a professional may be able to straighten your chimney with stay bars, it may have to be rebuilt. In some cases however, installing a cast chimney liner might work!
We’re so glad you asked! Inspect the inside of your chimney for signs of damage. Just like the outside, the interior of your chimney is vulnerable to different conditions that could deteriorate it. Heat from your fireplace as well as fumes and build up all contribute to damage inside your chimney. The first step to inspecting the inside of your chimney is cleaning it. Calling a chimney sweeper is always a great idea but, if you want to save a little money and are confident that you can do it, you can always clean your chimney yourself!
Once you have a clear view of the interior of your chimney, look for any cracks or missing tiles in the chimney liner. Keep in mind that if it is more than a superficial issue it’s a good idea to call in the professionals. When most everything is still in good shape though and the chimney is stable, you can install your own chimney liner to make your chimney safe again!
There are a variety of types of chimney liners out there—including cast-in-place chimney liners that may help stabilize your chimney. We know how important it is to you to save money by doing it yourself, so we’ve made some articles that can help you determine if you need one and what kind you need. Check them out!
Though optional, a chimney cap can be a very useful part of your chimney. It may not necessarily be a part of maintenance, but it’s still important to make sure that your chimney is protected from above. What do we mean? Well, Santa isn’t the only thing that’ll come down your chimney!
Squirrels, bats, and other wildlife may make their way down your chimney and into your firebox without a chimney liner. Without a fireplace door, they may even make their way into your home.
A chimney cap can prevent this, but it’s important to be sure that it’s still in good working order. Look for rusted or missing parts, loose mesh or other telltale signs that it’s time to replace it with a high quality chimney cap!
Part of being a homeowner involves keeping your home healthy and free of damage. And, that tasks extends to the fireplace and chimney. It’s very important to keep an eye on your fireplace and be sure that it’s still functioning properly. The same goes for your stove as well!