Prepare for a Summer with Outdoor Recreational Fires
Summer’s long evenings are ideal for cookouts and campfires with friends and family. An outdoor fireplace creates an intimate atmosphere for a romantic evening with your partner and a cozy setting for a dinner party. A firepit is ideal for block parties and family get-togethers. Nothing beats the flavor of food cooked over open flames. Along with s’mores, you can make delicious food for your guests over the coals like pizza, bread, grilled veggies, and even wings.
Before you gather around your outdoor fireplace or firepit, there are a few simple steps to take to make sure it’s in safe working condition for another burning season.
How to Prep Your Outdoor Fireplace for Summer
Step 1: Make sure it is clean and clear.
Critters love to nest in chimneys because they provide a safe, warm shelter. You can check your chimney for pests by shining a flashlight into the flue and looking up through the mouth of the fireplace. While you look for signs of animals, keep an eye out for tar-like or shiny black buildup along the walls of the flue. That buildup is known as creosote. It is a highly flammable substance that often causes chimney fires. If you notice creosote or signs of animal infestation, the best solution is to call on a professional chimney sweep. Chimney sweeps are experts at removing tough creosote buildup and animal nests.
Step 2: Inspect the fireplace components.
This step is especially important if you have a gas fireplace. Check that there are no holes in the gas line, spiderwebs or dust in the gas valve and that the pilot lights. If you have a wood burning fireplace, check that the flue opens, the chimney cap is intact and chimney crown isn’t damaged. Using your fireplace when it is damaged, or malfunctioning can be a serious safety risk. Contact a professional chimney technician if you discover any problems.
Step 3: Light a small test fire.
It’s a good rule of thumb to light a small test fire even if you’ve had your fireplace professional cleaned and inspected. A small fire will dry it out without the risk of overheating and cracking the chimney lining. You will also be able to tell whether or not it is venting properly. After following this last step, your fireplace will be ready to light up for a party or a relaxing evening outside.
Keep moisture out, throughout the summer, by closing the fireplace doors between uses. If your fireplace doesn’t have a chimney chase top or chimney cap, experts recommend having one installed. Moisture can do severe damage to your chimney and shorten the lifespan of your fireplace. A chimney chase top or cap acts like an umbrella preventing rain, sleet, and snow from falling into the chimney. It also has metal mesh around the sides that prevents birds, raccoons, and other critters from getting inside.
How to Prep Your Firepit for Summer
Step 1: Scoop Out Old Ashes
We don’t recommend leaving ashes in your firepit. Ash from wood-burning fires is acidic and will corrode the walls of your pit. If there are ashes from last year in the pit, this is the time to clean them out. You can scatter them in your garden or flower bed to increase lime and potassium in the soil.
Step 2: Patch Any Cracks
Deep cracks in your firepit can expand and cause serious structural damage to your firepit. If you notice any cracks, it is a good idea to patch them with a filler or cement that is for fireplaces or firepits and can withstand high temperatures.
Step 3: Check the Fuel Line (Gas Only)
If you have a natural gas or propane fire pit, make sure that there are no holes in the fuel line. It is a good rule of thumb to check the fuel line before every use since your firepit is exposed to critters and insects.
If you need help preparing your outdoor fireplace or firepit for a sizzling summer, give us a call! The service team at Burlington Fireplace & Solar are National Fireplace Institute (NFI) Certified Chimney Technicians. We clean, inspect and repair outdoor fireplaces and chimneys for residents throughout Southeast Wisconsin.
Are you considering upgrading your outdoor living space with a fireplace or firepit? If you are, stop by our showroom! We have a wide selection of gas and wood burning outdoor fireplaces and built-in firepits in many different sizes, styles, and materials. We also offer beautifully designed fire tables that are a great addition to an outdoor kitchen.