Cleaning Outdoor Fireplaces – Prep for Summer Fires
Homeowners are moving the joy of being home to the out-of-doors, including building outdoor fireplaces. Entertaining friends in the backyard during summer and in other seasons is also increasingly popular. Although more people are building outdoor fireplaces, they don’t always realize these appliances need to be cleaned routinely, in order to operate properly year after year. Neglecting to maintain an outdoor fireplace can result in premature deterioration and less efficient operation. Weather conditions can cause some of the problems that need to be addressed. Different types of material used for these beautiful backyard structures need different types of care to prep for summer fires. For best results in properly maintaining an outdoor fireplace, know the material it is made with and apply the proper protection and/or cleaning methods. There are four common types of outdoor fireplaces: Iron; copper; aluminum and steel; and brick and stone.
Problems Caused by Weather Conditions
Ground movement and soil compaction can cause settling of an outdoor fireplace. Even concrete foundations on patios and terraces can experience shifting and cracking. If you live in a cold climate where the ground freezes and thaws routinely, the soil has more moisture and movement. In these conditions, there is greater potential for damage to your fireplace. It can be dangerous to use an unstable outdoor fireplace.
Cracking and crumbling of fireplace materials, such as stone masonry, is also common, as a result of constant exposure to rain, sun, ice, and snow.
Outdoor Iron Fireplaces
Iron outdoor fireplaces are very durable. There needs to be some protection, even though iron doesn’t rust easily. One way to protect the iron and defend it against rusting is to apply high-temperature paint specially formulated to prevent rusted areas on iron. Whether only the base or whether all of the fireplace materials are made with iron, the special paint is recommended.
Outdoor Copper Fireplaces
Copper is a material that maintains its beauty as it responds to exposure to the elements. If the shine of copper is preferred, the material should be stored under shelter. The patina appearance does not require extra attention for aesthetic purposes; it has a naturally occurring appeal. To clean copper, a nylon brush and mild detergent are recommended after the heating season has ended. A degreaser can be used to remove any soot that has accumulated.
Outdoor Aluminum and Steel Fireplaces
Aluminum and steel components of outdoor fireplaces tend to rust. If protected during wet seasons, they can be durable. A recommended approach to preventing moisture from rusting the surface of steel and aluminum fireplaces is to use a high-quality vinyl covering to encase the fireplace when not in use.
Outdoor Brick and Stone Fireplaces
The easiest type of outdoor fireplace to maintain is one made of brick and stone. No coverings are needed to protect materials from the elements. A good scrubbing of the hearth is recommended, to remove debris such as ash.
An outdoor fireplace can be enjoyed year after year, summer after summer, with regular maintenance. Many of our member stores have trained chimney technicians who can provide annual cleaning and inspection of indoor and outdoor fireplaces, to prepare for use in summer, fall, and whenever desired. In addition, many locations offer masonry repair services. Contact one of our member stores, whatever your needs related to indoor and outdoor fireplaces as well as wood stoves, gas fireplaces, gas logs, and more.