Hire a Chimney Sweep to Prepare Your Fireplace for Winter
Each season, the chimney should be cleaned before you build a fire in the fireplace. Over time, creosote will build up. The accumulation can catch fire, leading to a dangerous situation. A chimney sweep will remove soot and creosote build-up to reduce the risk of chimney fires.
Install a Chimney Cap
In the warmer months, your chimney may have become home to birds, squirrels, and bats. Adding a chimney cap will cover the top of the chimney and keep animals out. The cap is also designed to keep the rain out and help prevent blow-backs, which occur when the wind blows the smoke back down the chimney and into the house. Additionally, the cap will protect your roofing materials from embers that float up from your fire.
Remove Ashes and Wood
To prepare your fireplace for use, remove charred wood and ashes from last season. Sweep ashes out of the firebox and dump the collection tray if your fireplace has one.
Install a Screen or Glass Doors
To protect your home and your belongings, install a screen or doors in front of the firebox. These additions help to keep the fire contained and prevent sparks and stray embers from damaging your floor or furniture. A barrier also keeps curious children and pets away from the flames.
Make Sure the Damper is Functional to Prepare Your Fireplace for Winter
The damper of the fireplace controls airflow and helps the fire burn more efficiently. Check to make sure it will open and close completely. When building a fire, you’ll open the damper to allow smoke to move out of the space. Leaving the damper closed will lead to smoke coming inside and the fire may not get enough air to burn properly.
Choose the Right Firewood
When burning wood indoors, use only well-seasoned firewood. Quality hardwood, like oak, is a great choice. Softer woods, like pine, burn less efficiently and contribute to more creosote build-up. Never burn freshly cut wood or household garbage in your fireplace.