Winter is on the way out, and as spring approaches thoughts tend to turn to the annual spring clean and bringing the outdoor area up to standard.
Having sat dormant for much of the winter there is a chance your outdoor fireplace needs a little TLC. Before firing it up for the first time there are a few things you'll need to do to ensure a clean, safe burn that your guests will enjoy.
In order for the fireplace to function effectively, it needs to be dry, have the right level of ash, and the chimney needs to be cleared of debris on a regular basis. It is also important to consider the placement of the fireplace and the materials from which it is made.
Maintenance and cleaning
To ensure your outdoor fireplace is providing effective warmth all season long, it is vital to keep it in proper working order with regular maintenance.
A Trendz outdoor fireplace has a steel firebox, which is very durable, kicks out a lot of heat, and will last a long time. However, for maximum protection and life expectancy it should be covered during wet months. Use a stainless steel door or mesh door from the Trendz Accessories range to keep the weather out in the winter months.
Cleaning the chimney of an outdoor fireplace is a lot easier than tackling the one in your house, and can be handled by most people. You'll need a few tools and to prep a little but otherwise it's easy.
- During your last fire of the season is the perfect time to use a creosote remover. Most creosote removers are applied to the dying embers of the fire and should not be used on the first fire of the season as the risk of blockages causing the remover to not work properly is too high. Follow the instructions carefully on whichever creosote remover you use.
- Before your first fire of the season place an old sheet on the floor in front of the fireplace's hearth.
- Place the ladder at the rear or side of the fireplace, making sure it's on steady and even ground. Make sure you enlist an adult to spot you and steady the ladder if needed. Note - you may have to remove the chimney cap to proceed.
- Feed the chimney brush from the top of the chimney and push down.
- Repeat this process until the brush reaches the hearth and you're sure the chimney is clear of debris
Resist the urge to use more DIY methods of chimney cleaning. Some people use a ball of chicken wire to clean the chimney with. This will scratch the metal of the chimney and remove the protective coating. This will enable moisture to permeate the metal and allow it to begin to rust.
Cleaning the firebox
A little bit of ash in a fireplace is a good thing, but it's important to clear any excess ash regularly and to perform a full clean at least once a year, preferably after the last fire of the season.
Aim to remove all but an inch layer of ash every 3-4 burns. This will keep the ash to an acceptable level.
Once a year it's a good idea to do a full empty and clean. It would be a good idea to do this after you have performed a creosote clean.
Sweep the soot and ash into a dust pan and place in a covered container. We recommend sprinkling the ash onto flower beds rather than throwing it away, if suited to your soil. Wood ash contains no nitrogen but does have phosphorous, potassium, calcium and other elements perfect for plants that need the acidity in soil levels lowering.
When empty of ash and soot check the steel of the firebox for signs of wear and tear. Make sure to cover the firebox with a steel or mesh door to protect it during the winter months.
Trim Plants Near The Fireplace
Keep all plants and foliage around the fireplace well-maintained and cut back. Overgrowth can be a fire hazard and overhanging plants may drop leaves into the chimney. Avoid planting right next to the fireplace structure to avoid potential fire hazards. Climbers and shrubs can be particularly bad for an outdoor fireplace as they may attach themselves to the fireplace, getting into the joints or creating cracks which could cause protective materials to deteriorate.
Looking after the main surround for your fireplace can lengthen the lifespan of your outdoor fireplace. Checking it once a year, and giving it a good clean, can keep it in tip top condition for many years.
- Brush off all surfaces and clean with a soapy mixture to eliminate moss or natural growth on your fireplace.
- Fill any cracks in the render or cement to stop water getting in and making it worse. During the winter months the water will freeze and expand as it does so, slowly widening the cracks. Filling crack early will prevent hide them from view and prevent the crack from getting any worse.
If you haven't made the move to own your own outdoor fireplace then check out our photobook by clicking on the link below. Be warned the inspiration will be overwhelming.