Brick and stone masonry fireplaces are desirable because these traditional building materials lend a look and feel of permanence and stability to any setting they are installed in. To drive this feeling of durability and authenticity home, many old stone masonry and brick fireplaces are still standing today, and function just as well as they did decades ago. It is important to remember, however, that no matter how solid or tough these fixtures are, a little maintenance is necessary if you want to keep your stone or brick fireplace in good working order.
Brick Fireplace Maintenance
With some classic brick and stone masonry installations, the mortar was simply not prepared properly, which causes it to wear away easily and could even lead to the fireplace as a whole being unstable. In these cases, hiring a qualified mason to take care of the problem is the only way to go. Though the expense might seem a bit high, you must remember that the work done by a mason is likely to last for several lifetimes, making the initial cost a bit more bearable.
Maintaining a brick or stone masonry fireplace is a relatively easy task, so long as the mortar that holds it together is still in good shape. Basically, aside from cleaning up ashes in and around the fireplace opening, all you really need to worry about is having your chimney cleaned about once a year in most scenarios (for those who use their fireplaces frequently, having the chimney cleaned several times annually may be in order).
Outdoor Masonry Fireplace Maintenance
One of the nice things about masonry fireplaces is that they can stand up to the elements like very few other materials could ever hope to. Because of this, you sometimes run into a stone or brick fireplace that is built outdoors. While they make excellent centerpieces for entertaining guests outside and good tools for outdoor cooking, an outdoor fireplace will require a bit more upkeep than its indoor counterpart. In addition to keeping the chimney clean and clearing away ash, you’ll also need to worry about clearing debris such as leaves, as well as making sure that any plant life (or sometimes animal life, too) doesn’t decide to make your fireplace its home.
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The Importance of Chimney Cleaning
Whether you have a masonry fireplace or even a wood burning stove, one of the most important aspects of maintenance is keeping the chimney clean and clear. Not only can a blocked chimney cause smoke to enter your home, doing damage to property and paint, but it could also cause far more serious problems.
When wood burns, it leaves deposits along the inside of your chimney that eventually forms a black, gummy film of what is called creosote. Creosote, if it gets hot enough, can actually ignite and cause a chimney fire. No fire in your home is “good”, but chimney fires can be especially devastating, and cause an incredible amount of property damage.
By getting your chimney cleaned regularly, you are removing built-up creosote and greatly reducing the risk of a chimney fire, along with a potential new chimney installation. In addition to improving function, you’ll also be taking a step toward preserving your masonry fireplace for the next people that live in your home.