Tips for Managing Your Outdoor Fireplace: Maintenance and Safety 101

by Alex ThatcherJuly 20, 2016

Back to Basics: Mastering the Outdoor Fireplace

An outdoor fireplace can add ambiance, warmth, a focal feature, and even a touch of class to your patio, deck, or backyard living space. But much like their indoor cousins, backyard fireplaces require routine maintenance to keep them functioning properly and safely. It can be tempting to neglect the maintenance of a backyard fireplace. After all, it’s not connected to the house, so if it develops a flue fire, it wouldn’t be as disastrous as its indoor counterpart.

But why bother with the energy, expense, and time that goes into designing and building a backyard fireplace if you’re not prepared to keep it in good working order throughout the duration of its life?
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Furthermore, what you may consider to be hardly a safety hazard could become a threat to your home and neighborhood.  This is because it will see the majority of its use during the driest and highest temperature, fire danger months of the year. Furthermore, an ill-maintained backyard fireplace could soon become a nesting site for birds or rodents, providing you and your guests with a nasty surprise the first time you get it going on a warm spring or summer night.

You can pay a professional to come and clean your outdoor fireplace at the beginning of the season, but if you’re more inclined to provide your home’s regular maintenance yourself, then read on for a quick list of basic outdoor fireplace cleaning and maintenance tips.

Maintenance and Repair Issues Caused by the Weather

Outdoor fireplaces are heavy by nature, so they can settle a bit when the ground gets softer during the rainy seasons. Check your outdoor fireplace for signs of settling as well as any cracks it may have developed. Also check for signs of crumbling masonry. Repairing settling and any damage caused by the elements of the winter may be easier done prior to using your outdoor fireplace for the first time of the season.

Maintenance and Repair Issues Caused by Wear and Tear

Exhaust fans, flues, smoke guards, and weatherproof exhaust systems can all cause problems with smoke blowing back down the chimney and out the grille of the fireplace if they are not maintained. With gas outdoor fireplaces, problems with clogged or malfunctioning burners, defective or worn pilot lights, and leaking gas can present dangerous problems on top of their ability to compromise your enjoyment of your outdoor fireplace.

Be sure to thoroughly inspect all of the operational parts of your outdoor fireplace prior to lighting up the first fire of the season. Your life may depend upon it!
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TLC: Tinder, Love, and Care

With a little examination, a little cleaning, and some quick repairs, your outdoor fireplace should be ready to provide you with the same quality ambiance as it did when it was first installed. If you have any misgivings about the safety or operational viability of your outdoor fireplace, contact a professional in your area. Professional inspection and service may cost a bit more than doing it yourself, but it’s usually worth it.


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About The Author
Alex Thatcher
Alex is a home staging guru who moonlights as a writer. She loves everything about interior design and loves working in the industry. Alex is an expert in finding what makes people light up when they walk into a room, and has made a living by creating interiors that are unique, warm and inviting. When she isn't arranging flowers or making sure she's found the right loveseat for prospective buyers, she writes about her passion — home design.

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