It’s spring! Which means your fireplace usage is likely taking a dramatic drop. …but that doesn’t mean maintenance should go to the back burner!

If you’re wrapping up your burning season, we’ve got some suggestions for doing it right and keeping your system in better shape for the long haul.

Remove Fireplace Ash

Clearing out your wood ash at the end of the season is a must, but when it comes to ash removal, a few precautions need to be taken to avoid potential injury or home damage. First things first, hold off on the job for at least 24 hours after your last first to ensure there’s no lingering heat. Then, be sure you’re scooping with a metal shovel and putting the ash into a metal bucket with both a lid and a handle.

End-of-Season Fireplace Cleaning Tips - Charlottesville VA - Chimney Guys ashWhen you’re done scooping, secure the lid on tightly. This ensures no oxygen can get in and reignite any stray embers that may be hiding in the ash pile (they can stay live for days).

Finally, leave the sealed bucket on a non-flammable surface outside of your home (steer clear of garages and porches) for a few days to ensure it has ample time to cool down and extinguish any left behind embers.

Still have questions? We’ve answered a few common ones below, but if you still find yourself with lingering concerns, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

Question #1: I heard leaving a layer of ash behind is good… Should I clear it all out?

This is one question we can answer with another question… Is it officially the end of your burning season? If yes, then clearing out all of your ash is the best route to take. When ash is left to sit in your firebox all summer, it can draw in moisture which breaks things down in a hurry.

That said, if you’re still in the midst of your burning season, then the rumors are true… leaving a small 1 – 2 inch layer behind can be beneficial for nesting coals and starting future fires, and it helps to protect your firebox floor, too. Just don’t let it pile up too high, as this will both wear down your grate and leave less room for fuel.

Question #2: Can I vacuum my ash? (It sounds a lot easier…)

Rather than piling scoop after scoop into a bucket, many question if they can simply vacuum their ash pile. This is NOT recommended! Because embers can stay live for days, you could easily vacuum one up into your flammable vacuum bag. This will not only damage the appliance, but creates a huge fire hazard, as well.

And even if all the embers are dead, you run the risk of ash particles escaping and affecting your indoor air quality. Your vacuum filter is effective as catching basic household dust, but ash is much finer, meaning it can easily escape filters and enter into the air you’re breathing.

This isn’t great for anyone, but if you have people in your home already struggling with allergies or respiratory problems, they’ll really be impacted. (This also means ash is more likely to enter your air ducts making your HVAC system work harder, upping your monthly bills and, again, affecting indoor air quality.)

Question #3: Are there any alternative uses for ash once it cools?

There are actually tons of things you can use ash for. For example, many toss it in their garden to neutralize acidic soil and repel snails and slugs. (Just do your research first because some plants love acidity and won’t benefit from the addition of wood ash.)

You can also use ash for polishing silver, cleaning your fireplace’s glass doors, removing oil stains in your driveway, de-stinking pets, de-icing sidewalks, repelling cockroaches, and some even use it to remove odors in their home. A quick online search will bring up lots of options, so don’t throw your ash away – put it to use!

Book Your Inspection

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends annual inspections for chimney owners, and spring and summer is a great time to get this maintenance in while you’re in between burning periods. Many opt to wait for fall, but this is a busy time of year for sweeps and can lead to some setbacks.

Here are some of the biggest reasons why we suggest scheduling your inspection on the early side:

  • End-of-Season Fireplace Cleaning Tips - Charlottesville VA - Chimney Guys calendarConvenience: Once temps drop in the fall, everyone gets the same idea – let’s use the fireplace! Because of this, we tend to get a bunch of calls right around the same time, and our books fill up fast. Which means, the longer you wait to reach out, the harder it might be to find a day and time that’s good for you.
  • Avoiding Delays: Let’s say you get your inspection booked, then make plans to use the fireplace that very night once your sweep gives you the all clear. Except instead of finding a clean, reliable system, your sweep notices build-up and/or hidden damages… This means going back to the calendar to book even more maintenance and delaying those cozy evenings once again.
  • Money Savings: With chimneys, the sooner any issues are addressed, the less damage you’ll face overall. It’s when homeowners put off maintenance that easy fixes can turn into expensive repair jobs. Which means scheduling your inspection on the early side can save you some big dollars down the line.

What we suggest is forward scheduling. Simply give us a call and let us know the best time in June or July to get your inspection booked. Then… that’s it! Once you’re booked, the rest is in our hands, and we’ll even send you sweep reminders as the date approaches, so you know for sure when to expect us. Super easy and convenient!

Schedule Upgrades, Repairs & Sweepings

Did your inspection reveal the need for sweeping services or repairs? Get them booked! Like with your inspection, the sooner these things are booked, the more prepared you’ll be for the start of your burning season. Come fall, while others are still waiting to get their maintenance completed, you’ll be relaxing in front of some warm, cozy flames – can’t beat that!

Don’t need repairs, but want to invest in some upgrades? We can help with that, too! We’d be happy to install any new components, like a top-sealing damper or new chimney cap, or if it’s a new system you’re hoping for, we can help with that, too.

Give Us a Call

Ready to get on our schedule? Call today or reach out to us online. We’d love to hear from you!