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Prepping Your Fireplace for Winter

Fireplace season is almost here! With cold weather blowing in, it is time to start preparing your fireplace for the first burn of the season. However, there are a few things you need to check before you fire it up.

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Cleaning and Inspection

Before you do anything, make sure you have had your fireplace inspected and cleaned by a CSIA Certified chimney sweep in the last year. A certified professional will clear away any soot or creosote buildup and debris that may have accumulated in the chimney. Sweeps will also inspect the chimney structure and make sure all components are working properly. They will not only check for cracks and moisture, but will also make sure your equipment is functioning properly. For example, it is critical that the damper is opening and closing smoothly as you will want it open when burning but closed when not in use. Another important component is the chimney cap. If you have a damaged or missing cap, a certified sweep will be able to repair or replace it so that your chimney will remain free of debris and wildlife.

Burning

The kind of wood you are using in your fireplace is critical to keeping your fireplace safe. Be sure you’re only burning seasoned wood, not wood that has been freshly cut. Softwoods should be seasoned for a minimum of 6 months and a minimum of 12 months for hardwoods. Also, be sure that you are storing the wood properly. Wood should be stack with the split-side facing down and should be elevated off the ground to allow air to circulate around it. Cover it with a heavy-duty tarp to protect it from moisture. Moisture in wood causes excess smoke, which leads to creosote buildup.

Safety

Taking some extra precautions inside of the house can maximize the enjoyment you get from your fireplace this season. Be sure all fire extinguishers are charged and in a location all family members know about. Also, add a screen to the front of the fireplace to protect from accidental fires caused by burning embers. Hot embers can escape from an uncovered fireplace and ignite nearby carpet, upholstery, or paper such as magazines. A screen will also provide a layer of protection between small children and the fire. If you have very small children, an extra barrier may be needed to protect their hands from the hot screen. Be sure to test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries if needed.

Following these suggestions will help you stay warm this winter and you will rest easy knowing your fireplace is safe. Call us today to setup an appointment to get your chimney cleaned and inspected before winter gets here!