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Restoring a neglected fireplace

Many people fall into the category of having no power after Hurricane Sandy swept through the state. And many turned to wood-burning fireplace for warmth and light.

Fireplaces have become the focal point of many homes and serves as a beautiful backdrop for parties. Fireplaces also create a sense of home when the entire family gathers around the fireplace to share memories and laughter.

If you have an older inoperable fireplace (as found in many older homes) that you want to put back into service, first you should assure that the chimney is operable and safe. A chimney sweep is the best source for make sure your chimney is in good shape and usable.

What you find behind a wall can be amazing. Anything from an old brick structure where the chimney has been removed to a completely operable brick fireplace. Sometimes all you need is a little facing renovation and you're all set to enjoy a newly commissioned fireplace. On the other hand, the old fireplace may have been covered over simply because the fireplace was no longer safe to use and therefore you have to make another choice if you want a fireplace. In some cases, a professional restorer can bring the old fireplace back to operable condition.

If you are restoring an older fireplace, there are many choices for the surrounding materials, including granite, marble, wood, and stone. You should also make sure the interior of the fireplace is intact, including an operable damper. There are commercially available brick liners that can be used to rejuvenate the interior of the fireplace.

Any fireplace or chimney that has not been used for a long time should be thoroughly cleaned and inspected before putting it back into operation. If there was a previous owner using the fireplace, you have no idea when the fireplace was serviced, what type of wood was burned and how the fireplace was operated. Creosote is very flammable and only proper cleaning will remove it. Generally you should have your fireplace cleaned and serviced once per year.

If your newly discovered fireplace is declared inoperable, you do have other choices, such as a gas, pellet or wood fireplace insert. With a new insert, you will have great athletics plus very high efficiency resulting in a great deal of heat from the fuel your choose to burn.

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