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Fire places: An essential ally of your winter

The outlook of the modern household towards gadgets is changing rather rapidly.  What was considered a luxury a decade ago, has become bare necessity.  Fireplaces are one such gadget that was considered a luxury to be seen only in star rated hotels and hilly terrain.  But the market for fireplace in India is growing at a healthy rate.  There are several reasons for that, but we are not going dwell on it for now.  India is home to several hill stations that are attractive destinations for Indian and foreign tourists.  Even in the plains, places like Delhi and several cities in Northern India, witness temperature extremes; that is they are extremely hot in summer and get bitter cold during winter.  The installed fireplace in these cities may not be used for several months together when the mercury hovers around the century mark.  But when winter arrives we have to ensure that the fireplace does not let you down and functions in full fettle.  Getting your fireplace ready for the winter is therefore crucial.

The first step in getting your fireplace ready is to have a physical examination done.  A careful examination of the fireplace, hearth and chimney should be done and cleaned by a service professional.  Generally the maintenance and cleaning can be scheduled atleast once a year or after about 70 to 80 fires.  Fireplace maintenance and cleaning should also be done after long period of inactivity.  The creosote should be removed as it is highly inflammable by product of wood fire.

The joints should be checked for cracks and damage to masonry work.  Do all masonry work with a professional mason as regular mortar cannot withstand the heat generated by fireplaces.

The proper opening and closing of fireplace damper is another vital component to be inspected.  The chimney cap is meant to prevent birds and small animals and pests from entering into the chimney.   This should be inspected too.  Look for any protruding branches of trees that could hamper the functioning of the chimney.  Apart from being a fire hazard, trees can restrict air movement resulting in downdraft problem.

Fireboxes should be cleaned often when the ash gets piled.  The boxes retain heat for upto 3 days and therefore ensure that it is completely cold.  If not already done, consider installation of a heatproof glass door.  This can prevent sparks damaging the surrounding space.  Clean the glass doors with a door cleaner or paper towel.

Wooden fireplaces are the heartthrob of millions.  Adequately stock quality wooden logs and keep them away from the house.  Dry them properly before the onset of rains/winter.  Hardwoods burn longer generating more heat while soft woods burn quickly.  The log should be placed strategically so that the softwoods burn first generating enough heat to burn the hardwoods like oak, maple etc.  Never burn treated or otherwise painted wood as these can produce dangerous fumes.

In case of gas fireplace, check the liners, burners etc and replace them as needed.  Make sure that the vents are clean and working properly.  In electric fireplace, check for any lose wire or broken components.  Check the connectors for secure fitting.  Avoid piling up of dust in fireplaces.  With due diligence and some maintenance, enjoy this winter with the best fireplace models of Master Fireplaces (http://masterfireplaces.in)

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