Prepare your Fireplace for Winter

Winter is fast approaching, and it’s important to prepare your fireplace in advance so that you’re ready to warm your house during the colder months. Along with hiring a skilled professional to inspect your HVAC system, make sure to prepare your fireplace by cleaning your chimney before the first fire of the season.

Have an Expert Inspect your Chimney to Prepare Your Fireplace

Most homeowners like the idea of using fireplaces to heat their homes. Unfortunately, a fireplace can be hazardous if the chimney isn’t well-maintained. NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) states that 25% of home heating fires are primarily due to clogged and dirty chimneys.

Routine cleaning of the chimney is necessary to get rid of creosote. After burning natural wood, creosote residue forms inside of the chimney. It’s a highly flammable coating that will lead to a chimney fire.

It’s best to hire a professional to clean your chimney, but if you prefer the DIY strategy, you’ll need some cleaning products and tools. You can purchase a chimney brush from a nearby hardware store. You’ll need to know the size of your chimney, so measure it first so that you get the right one. 

Buy an extension brush for your chimney to reach the innermost parts. Other things you may need include a stiff wire brush, drop cloth or plastic tarp, a dustpan or broom, goggles, dust mask, and old clothes because the dirt may destroy your good clothes.

Inspect Cap and Cage

To prepare your fireplace for use, check your chimney cap and cage. A chimney cap is an essential addition to your chimney. It is a protective mesh covering that prevents debris and other stuff from getting into your chimney. 

With a functional cap in place, animals like birds, raccoons, and squirrels can’t enter the chimney. It also helps keep rain from entering. Airflow via the chimney is crucial for your fireplace to operate correctly.  A clogged chimney disrupts the airflow and puts your property at risk. A safe fire needs oxygen to burn and this is difficult if creosote has built up inside the chimney or on the mesh of the chimney cap. 

Other elements that may clog up your mesh include leaves, twigs, and other debris. You can tell your chimney cap is blocked if the smoke from your fireplace is flowing back into your house instead of flowing up and out through the chimney. This is very dangerous and can lead to carbon monoxide in your home. It’s essential to inspect your chimney cap when you prepare your fireplace.

Check Your Chimney Flue

Inspecting the chimney flue is part of preparing your fireplace. The flue should be clean and open to allow smoke to exit through the chimney. If the flue is clogged, poisonous gases will accumulate in your home. 

Make sure you have installed a carbon monoxide detector near your fireplace and that your damper opens and closes completely to prevent moisture and cold air from entering your home. Your home will also heat more efficiently when your damper is in proper working order. 

Finally, a clogged chimney can cause a fire in your home. Chimney fires are dangerous and destructive. Prevent incidents by preparing your chimney first. Call an expert to inspect the fireplace and clean the chimney. When these are in top condition, you can light up the fire and keep your family comfortable all winter long.

Five Stars Home Inspection provides home inspections in Boston and the surrounding area. Contact us to request our services.