The charming fireplace in your new home is one of the details you love most. But before you light up the first log, it’s important to make sure that both your fireplace and chimney are in safe working order.
Examine the Firebox
Look for any cracks, gaps, or signs of wear in the lining of the firebox (the interior of the fireplace). If the lining has deteriorated to the point that the steel body beneath it is visible, you’ll need to have it professionally repaired.
Look for Telltale Smoke Stains
Smoke stains can be another signal that your fireplace isn’t functioning properly. If you see stains on the ceiling, smoke could be escaping from a gap between the hearth and the firebox. This is most likely because the hearth has settled — not an unusual occurrence in an older home. When this settling occurs, sparks that fall into the gap can send up smoke, “essentially acting as a secondary chimney. You’ll need a mason, skilled handyman, or fireplace professional to fix this.
Is the Grate Too Large?
When it comes to your fireplace grate, bigger isn’t necessarily better. A metal grate used to hold burning firewood should be no more than two-thirds the size of your fireplace opening. An over sized grate may tempt you to pile on too much wood, and the resulting flames can dangerously overheat your fireplace.