There is nothing better for a family gathering, party, or a cozy fall evening than an outdoor fireplace. And when your fireplace is made of beautiful natural stone, it’s more than just a way to stay warm, it’s an appealing aesthetic that adds to the experience. For that reason, you’ll want to keep it clean and in great working condition year-round.
If you have an outdoor stone fireplace in North Carolina, you may need to take extra care in the rainy and snowy months. There are different maintenance requirements for outdoor fireplaces than for those that are inside a building, even though they are used in the same way. Here are some tips for keeping your backyard fireplace in great shape in North Carolina.
General Cleaning for Outdoor Stone Fireplaces
There are some basic tips to keep your stone fireplace looking and working great:
#1 – Keep the Fireplace Clean
It’s important that you keep the inside of the fireplace clean. That means sweeping out the debris from the bottom of the fireplace regularly. While a little bit of ash will help fires burn, too much can interrupt the airflow. When there is enough ash that it touches the bottom of the fire grate, it’s time to clean it out. Additionally, if your fireplace is wood burning, you should use creosote cleaning logs to clean the inside regularly. If you have a gas fireplace, then it’s important to clean the burners and artificial logs of soot and ash regularly.
#2 – Get a Professional Cleaning Annually
Whether you have a wood-burning fireplace or a gas one, you should have it cleaned at least once a year (after the burning season is over) by a chimney sweep. Hiring a professional means that the fireplace will be thoroughly cleaned and inspected for any damage that needs repairing.
#3 – Complete Any Repairs Quickly
If the inspection of your fireplace and chimney identifies any damage, it’s important to get is taken care of quickly. That will ensure that the structural integrity of the fireplace is maintained and save you from paying higher repair costs down the line.
#4 – Keep Plants and Trees Away from the Fireplace
Make sure that you pay attention to any plants or trees that are around your fireplace. It’s easy to overlook features that you’re used to seeing all the time, so it’s important to make time to really look closely. If there are any plants that are near the fireplace, be sure to trim them back. Most plants are very flammable and can be a fire hazard when they are too close.
#5 – Be Careful During Extreme Temperature Changes
If you have a gas fireplace in North Carolina, extreme temperature shifts are something to watch out for before using the fireplace. North Carolina often has significant temperature changes in short periods of time in the winter. If the weather has recently gotten quite a bit warmer, it’s a good idea to wait a couple of days before lighting any gas fires. This will ensure that the artificial logs, burners, and other equipment have had a chance to thaw, making it less likely that they will become damaged or cracked from the fire’s heat.
How To Clean Soot Off a Stone Fireplace
After a few inters using your outdoor fireplace, it will likely need a good cleaning to get rid of the soot that has accumulated. You don’t have to hire a professional to get it back to its original beauty when you now how to do it yourself. Here are some ways that you can clean the soot from your fireplace:
Small accumulation of soot: If there is just a small amount of soot inside and around the outside of your fireplace, you can simply use the soap and water and elbow grease method. Of course, you will want to have the fireplace completely cleaned out, with no remaining ashes. A quarter cup of dish soap diluted in a quart of hot water and a stiff-bristled brush is all you need. Using the brush and some muscle, scrub the sooty areas and then rinse thoroughly.
Heavy accumulation of soot: For heavier accumulation of soot, you may have to use the chemical, trisodium phosphate (TSP), to clean the sooty stone. TSP is a cleaner and degreaser that is used to prepare walls before painting. It can be found in liquid or powdered form at most hardware stores. TSP is toxic if swallowed and can cause irritation to the skin and eyes, so be sure to wear protective equipment and follow the instructions carefully.
Keep in mind that the smoke and fire from your fireplace should be going up the chimney, if there is a thick build-up of soot outside the fireplace (that hasn’t accumulated over time), there may be a problem with the fireplace itself.
Natural Stone Fireplaces by Ambrose Landscapes
At Ambrose Landscapes, every outdoor stone fireplace we install starts with a design based on the homeowner’s choices. The type, style, size, and shape of the stone that is used can vary based on what you want. All of our designs include properly planned fireboxes, chambers, dampers, and flues to ensure that you receive the best, most effective, operation possible. Let us help you bring your dream fireplace to life.