Summer is here and the last thing you will probably be thinking about is your fireplace but before the miserable winter is a long-forgotten memory, some quick maintenance now will extend the lifespan of your stove, ensure a safe heating appliance for you and your family and have you ready to fire up for next winter.
Tip 1) External metalwork maintenance.
If you have a black stove, you can source a polish (click here) which is heat resistant and provides an attractive ‘lustre’ on both steel and cast iron components. Alternatively, many use a mix of linseed or olive oil and mineral turps (50/50). This acts as a mild polish to add luster in the summer months although it is not heat resistant and will burn off during the first burn of winter. For those of you with colour stoves in need of some ‘tlc’, the Charnwood range is easy to ‘touch up’ with a little preparatory work.
Whatever you do, please bear in mind that moist air (warm air can carry more moisture than cool) will create condensation on any cooler surface which will eventually affect your stove. This means that some preventative action is always best.
For products that are entirely cast iron, you may need to check the fire cement sealant used to seal the joins in the cast plates. This is not an issue for Charnwood stove owners.
Tip 2) Internal maintenance.
Clear out the last of the ash and check your riddle mechanism (if you have one) to ensure it is functioning well. Copper grease can assist with ‘sticky’ catches and door hinges. Check your ‘Vermiculite’ firebricks for cracks. Small ‘hairline’ cracks may be fixed using a high-heat glue. Larger cracks may require a replacement.
If you really want to get your hands dirty, a coating of stove polish on both sides of the baffle plate is even recommended by some experts!
A simple ‘squirt’ of WD40 or Q20 inside the firebox will also aid in reducing the damage caused by condensation inside the stove.
It is also recommended that you keep the airflow control button fully open and even leave the door open a crack during summer to ensure a good flow of air through the unit to reduce condensation.
Tip 3) Flues and installation
Chimneys should be swept annually or bi-annually as a minimum to ensure that the risk of chimney fires is kept to a minimum and to ensure good function of your flue system (which reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning). If you need a good sweep give us a call (Cape Town only).
Check your joins and seams in your flue system – especially in your attic/loft space where they are not visible. Leaks on the flue system could lead to Carbon Monoxide hazards for your family.
If you have a single-lined flue system penetrating your roof, you will need to check your weatherproofing annually. Ascertain what has been used by your installer and most of the time you will be able to purchase a proprietary brand equivalent to paint over the existing seal. There is nothing more demoralizing than water running down your flue pipe in the wet season!
While in the loft space, check any insulation material used by the installer to ensure that it is still in place and has not become dislodge by vermin or birds – you would be surprised what mice will make nests out of!
All in all, a half-day spent on your fireplace now will pay big dividends in the future so dont leave it until the rain gets here again! Take a look now and reap the rewards come winter!!