Important Skills to Maintain Fireplace

When the cold wind is raging outside the house, there is nothing more comforting than the warmth and light of an Ethanol fireplace. Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure that your Ethanol fireplace is not only effective but also safe to use. Safety should always be the number one priority when it comes to installation, operation, and maintenance of an Ethanol fireplace, as it has the potential to become a fire hazard.

One of the hazards that can be avoided with proper use and care is the accumulation of residue in the flame or chimney from the burning ethanol fuel. This residue can ignite and cause a house fire if not cleaned regularly. Additionally, if smoke is directly entering the room from the firebox, it means that the Ethanol fireplace is not operating properly. This can have a negative impact on the quality of indoor air, as it introduces pollutants and toxins into the home.

Another issue to consider is that Ethanol fireplaces consume a significant amount of air when burning, which can result in negative pressure indoors. This means that air from the outside is drawn into the home to replace the air consumed by the fireplace. If the air is drawn through the flue of the fireplace, it can also reverse the flow and bring back deadly smoke, such as carbon monoxide, into the living space. This is why it is important for every household to have a good smoke and carbon monoxide alarm.

Important Skills to Maintain Fireplace 1

Ashley Eldridge, a senior chimney expert at the American Institute of Chimney Safety, recommends professional inspections, cleaning, and testing of Ethanol fireplaces and chimneys for optimal safety. While homeowners can clean and maintain their own Ethanol fireplaces, they may not have the necessary knowledge or experience to identify potential problems during the inspection process.

The firebox of an Ethanol fireplace is typically made of special heat-resistant and refractory bricks. The chimney, on the other hand, is often constructed with standard bricks, stones, or tiles. It may also be covered with metal or slate to prevent rain, snow, birds, and animals from entering. A chimney cover with a small cast iron door, called a damping device, is installed above the stove to control the airflow and the size of the flame. This device should be closed when the fireplace is not in use and opened when the fire is ignited.

To prevent embers from entering the room when the flame is burning, Ethanol fireplaces often have a mesh protective device. The firebox may also have raised furnaces to increase the fire and improve airflow and combustion. Ashes can be easily cleaned through a small metal door, keeping the living area clean and free from dirt. Before igniting the fireplace, it is essential to open the damping device to allow smoke and burning gases to escape. Once the fire is lit, the hot combustion gas rises into the chimney by convection while fresh air is drawn from the room to sustain the combustion. The fatal combustion gases are continuously expelled from the top of the chimney, ensuring a safe and efficient operation.

It is important to note that an open Ethanol fireplace is not an efficient space heater, as the chimney absorbs both the hot combustion gases and the air from the home. To improve efficiency and safety, supplementary air can be directly introduced through a pipeline between the outdoor and the fireplace. Installing a glass door provides an additional layer of protection and allows for better control of the airflow within the firebox.

Although Ethanol fireplaces with glass doors have thermal efficiency ranging from 70% to 90%, they are cleaner and more effective than traditional Ethanol fireplaces, ultimately saving homeowners on heating costs. Once the fire is completely extinguished and the ashes have cooled, they can be safely removed from the firebox and either disposed of or used as fertilizer for plants.

Important Skills to Maintain Fireplace 2

Regular cleaning and annual inspections are crucial for the maintenance of Ethanol fireplaces and chimneys. Over time, ash and residue can build up, reducing the efficiency and potentially causing a chimney fire. Eldridge explains that even though the firebox is built with refractory bricks, the designs above the damping device can only withstand the hot smoke and gas, not the accumulation of residue. Therefore, it is vital to clean the chimney thoroughly if the residue accumulates to 1/8 inches or more.

When using an Ethanol fireplace, it is important to keep carpets, curtains, and furniture at a safe distance to prevent accidental fires. Special safety measures, such as childproof masks, should be installed in front of the fireplace to protect children and pets. Additionally, ensure that there are no combustible materials within 12 inches above the lintel, including wooden fireplace racks.

If smoke is not being properly discharged into the chimney and instead enters the room, it is crucial to immediately identify and correct any issues. These issues may include the accumulation of residue or other debris in the chimney, partially closed damping devices, or wet wood that does not burn efficiently.

In conclusion, regular maintenance and proper usage of an Ethanol fireplace are essential for its safety and effectiveness. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the warmth and ambiance of a fire while keeping your home and family safe.

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