We may be part-way through the season, but there is a lot of winter left. And although fall is the ideal time to prepare your fireplace for the cold months ahead, it’s not too late to take precaution. Make sure your fireplace lasts through the winter, and for years to come, with by following these simple steps:

  1. Have your chimney cleaned twice annually. The recommended number varies depending on how often you use your hearth. However, you should have it cleaned every fall to ensure proper ventilation, avoiding fires and risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. You will also want to make sure no animals have taken up residence.
  2. Visually assess the chimney from the outside. Is it leaning? Are there any chipped bricks or joints? Do you see any cracks or holes? If your chimney is factory-built metal, look for corrosion, stains or loose sections. If your chimney is exposed to your attic, make sure to check there as well. Look for any signs indicating repairs are necessary.
  3. Install a chimney cap if your home doesn’t already have one. Caps help to prevent snow, leaves, animals and other debris from falling down the chimney. They also keep downdrafts from gusting into your living area. A chimney cap with screen mesh will keep animals out while shielding your roof from embers and sparks.
  4. Check for leaks and stains inside your home. These could be caused by faulty flashing around the chimney at the roof line, or by a damaged flue liner. If you see signs of water around your chimney, call a chimney professional.
  5. Clean the flue. Open the clean-out door from the base of the flue, located either in your basement or outside the house. Using a small mirror and flashlight to see up the flue, look for buildup of soot, cracks, holes or separations. Line the fireplace floor with several layers of newspaper and put a plastic garbage bag nearby. Wash the flue’s walls with a wire brush, removing the ashy layers as you go.
  6. Close the damper. Make sure you close the damper when you’re not using the fireplace. This will prevent warm air from escaping during the cold, winter months.
  7. Only burn firewood. Painted wood, plastic and other treated wood surfaces can release chemicals into the air of your home. Worse, they can coat the interior walls of your fireplace, so you continue breathe them in for the next couple of fires.
  8. Remove leftover ash and creosote. Remove ash with the shovel from your fireplace set and dispose in a fireproof container. Remove creosote, the black, sooty build-up, with a formulated powder or spray.
  9. Mount smoke alarms near your hearth and in each bedroom. Also consider installing combined carbon monoxide and smoke detectors if you have a home with a gas-burning fireplace to aid with safety.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure your fireplace keeps you warm through the longest, coldest days of the year. For more seasonal tips contact us or call (800) 246-0273.