Outdoor Brick Fireplace Maintenance Tips Outdoor Brick Fireplace Maintenance Tips
Outdoor brick fireplace come in three types: fire pits, raised open fireplaces and fireplaces with chimneys. Regardless of which type you have, the amount of use and the kind of fuel you use will determine how much maintenance is necessary to keep it clean and in good working order.
A fire pit is a very simple fireplace, little more than an encirclement of an area within which to build a fire. To burn well the fire needs a good supply of oxygen. If your fire pit contains a metal basket in which the fuel is burned you will need to clear out all the ash beneath the basket. At the same time scrub the fire basket with a wire brush to remove burnt-on cinders.
The bricks that surround the pit and the areas outside the brick surround could be stained by wind blown smoke and ash. This can often be cleaned off by use of a scrubbing brush and water. Check the surrounding bricks also for any that might have broken or cracked in the heat. If a cracked or broken brick is not loose, it can be left but you should check it regularly.
Raised Open Fireplaces
A raised open fireplace is most often used as a barbecue. The fire is often contained on a metal framework under a metal grill that can be used to support cooking meat or a cooking pan. Ashes from these fireplaces are collected at the bottom and can easily be shoveled out and into a container.
Scrub all of the metal work with a wire brush to clean it off as much as possible. Check the brickwork for cracked or broken bricks. Replace any that need replacing. Check the mortar joints carefully. The expansion and contraction from heat can weaken mortar and it might be necessary to clean out the mortar joints a little and re-point them with fresh mortar.
Fireplaces with Chimneys
Many outdoor brick fireplaces are very similar to fireplaces that can be found indoors. As well as having a chimney, some of these fireplaces will have doors.
As with all fireplaces, the first thing for maintenance is to clear out old ashes. This type of fireplace has probably got an ash box with separate access and might even have a slide out ash container.
If the fireplace has doors and they can be lifted off, do so. Otherwise open the fire doors back as far as they will go. Sweep the chimney. A sweep’s rods and brush will make the job easier. With some chimneys it is possible to sweep the soot down the chimney from the top.
The amount and type of ash together with the quality of the soot you sweep from the chimney will give you some useful information about how well the fire is burning. The fire is at its best when the ashes are fine and there is very little soot.
Check the brickwork and mortar joints. If the chimney has been rendered or plastered, tap it in several places to ensure it is still firmly bonded to the wall. Clean the fire doors with the appropriate cleaners.