While it is possible for homeowners to clean and maintain their own fireplaces and chimneys, it’s unlikely that they possess the requisite knowledge or experience to spot all potential problems during an inspection.” One common masonry type is called a “Rumford” fireplace, after the 18th century British Count Rumford who developed the design.
Rumford fireplaces were much better at removing smoke from a fireplace and heating a room than their predecessors.
The design has stood the test of time – Rumford-inspired fireplaces even outperform some newer, modern designs.
A masonry fireplace’s firebox is built with special, heat-resistant firebrick, and the interior of the chimney is lined with heat-resistant, square clay tubes, called “tiles.” The visible parts of the chimney, hearth, and fireplace are typically made of non-combustible materials like standard brick, stone, or tile.
This is called “backdrafting” and is one reason all homes should be outfitted with working, well-maintained smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Ashley Eldridge, a veteran chimney sweep and director of education at the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) says, “Safety is the best reason to have a professional chimney sweep inspect, clean, and test any fireplace when you move into a home.
The sweeping should be done before summer, because humidity in the air can combine with creosote to form acids which can damage masonry and result in strong odors.
When the chimney is cleaned, a drop cloth is laid down on the hearth and into the room.
There, the ash can be accessed by another small, tight-fitting metal door, where it can be removed without getting the finished living area dirty.However, even a fireplace with glass doors has fairly poor heating efficiency.Installing a high-efficiency, EPA approved, metal fireplace insert makes the fireplace behave more like a woodstove.This way, a fireplace can be converted to become a cleaner, more efficient source of heat than a traditional fireplace and can save the homeowner money on heating bills.Remove ash from the firebox either via the ash dump or straight from the firebox once the fire is completely out and the ashes are cold.