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New Fireplace user

armychiq Member Posts: 29
My home has a wood and gas in one fireplace. I've never had one before. I'd like to get it serviced since home owner said it hasn't been used in years. There was wood in it from when i bought it and a piece of news paper that shows a date from 1984. So I'm assuming that's the last time they attempted to use it. Funds have been tight since the move because we are remodeling as well. My boyfriend said that his dad had a fireplace and use to clean it himself and he bought a kit to clean it and says he can do it - he really wants to get it going. I'm concerned as I've heard the stuff in the chimney can catch fire and the mess it can make also the safety reasons for him as well. He insists he can take care of it - any suggestions to make this situation a safe and efficient one? Or should I just get it cleaned professionally and bite the bullet? I've heard it from both sides - how you can do it yourself and how I should get it done by a professional... what is the right thing to do?! HELP


  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,040

    Not rocket science. Sweep the soot, inspect the damper. Not sure what an actual sweep costs, but they leave no trace of soot in the house. Big box stores sell the chimney brushes, and typically there is not much to check especially on a home built later than earlier where the house would tend to have moved more in my opinion. 
    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • armychiq
    armychiq Member Posts: 29
    RE: sweep

    Ok, that makes me feel a little better. He bought a chimney cleaning kit from meijer that looked like it had everything you needed. He's anxious as ever to get er goin so we'll see how it works out. There's new light carpet that comes right up to the fireplace which i was concerned about him getting black but hopefully he's careful. Thanks for your reply.
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,047

    You have the friend do it, and you decide to run the gas part, go get a new smoke/CO detector first.
  • armychiq
    armychiq Member Posts: 29
    RE: If...

    Honestly, I dont even know where the heck you turn on the gas part LOL. The house was an estate when i bought it and the daughter of the owner told me that they had it converted to be gas also. I'll probably just use the log version of it because we like the smell of the burning wood better than gas.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    edited January 2010
    Gas fire starter

    Are you sure that this is not a gas fire starter, and not a gas fireplace?

    Also there is more to inspecting a fireplace then cleaning the chimmney. You must be sure the clay flue is worthy of use. To do this you have to know what to look for.

    Cracks, spalling in flue tile or seperated tile joints with deteriorated mortar must be identified, and fixed before use! Gas or Wood.

    I have 4 masonary fireplaces. I clean my own, and inspect the flues yearly.

    I know you posted on this previously in another topic. You stated the damper was rusty. This should not be if there is a chimmney cap in place to keep the rain out. Water can really due some damage to a chimmney flue also.

  • armychiq
    armychiq Member Posts: 29
    RE: Gas fire starter

    The daughter of the previous owner said that they had it converted to gas as well so you could use either. Yes, the damper was rusted shut. The handle that opens it was rusty and put some WD-40 on it and it opens now no problem. If its been 25 years since its been used (as the date on the newspaper in the pile of wood in there now shows) then I could see why. I dont know anything about the flue though :\ Should I be concerned since this is both gas and log fireplace? I dont even see where this turns on for gas..?
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    edited January 2010
    Really think

    You should have a knowledable proffesional go through this with you.  Is the daughter able to be contacted? Maybe she could give you the information.

    Not trying to scare you, and I know you stated funds are tight. But I think I would leave the fireplace alone until funds are available.

    If you don't know how the gas valve operates that could be dangerous.

    Cracks/gaps in flue tile allow combustion byproducts to exit the chimmney  into the home this includes CO. If the chimmney is in the interior of the home this could be worse then one that is on an exterior wall.

  • MikeT_Swampeast_MO
    MikeT_Swampeast_MO Member Posts: 27
    Safe and Efficient

    Open fireplaces can be reasonably safe but they are rarely--if ever--efficient.

    Definitely clean (or have cleaned) the flue, but realize that nearly all wood burning open fireplaces actually waste energy if you are also running any form of central heating.  Why?  They consume your heated air to burn the fuel and return less heat to the space. 
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,276
    all of the above...

    has its points.  The first thing I would do, in your position, is get a good reliable chimney sweep in to check the condition of the flue and the fireplace.  It really is necessary, particularly if it hasn't been used for a while.

    Then, I would not use the gas aspect of the thing until someone from the gas company checks that thoroughly and makes sure it is safe.  However, it should be possible to use the fireplace without it, I would think -- although perhaps not, depending on how it is set up.

    But it is possible to burn wood in there (once the chimney is clean!) without gas ignition!

    It is quite true that open fireplaces are rarely efficient (although three of the four in the building I supervise are, if properly cared for) -- but they are undeniably cheerful and encouraging. 

    A couple of points, though, if you've never used one: make sure your wood is all hardwood; don't burn pine or spruce or other softwoods.  They spark and mess up the chimney fast.  Make sure your wood is properly seasoned -- a year at least -- and is good, not rotten.

    And never, ever leave your fire unattended, unless you have a really goof-proof, pet proof, kid proof, everything proof screen on it, or glass doors.  It just isn't worth the possible hazard.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    Yeah Mike

    What you say is true. The efficiency is not the greatest but the radiant aspect can be quite powerful in a properly designed plain Jane masonry fireplace.

     It will never compete with inserts or wood burners/ pellet stoves as far as extracting the most btus from lbs of wood.  But after you get all that masonry hot it radiates into the next day.  Interior built chimneys are the best.

     I'll take the efficiency hit for the ambiance of a roaring fire on a cold winter day or night, but that's me.
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