Many homeowners look forward to fires in the fireplace when cold weather rolls around. Before you kindle the first fire of the season, prepare your fireplace for use. With the proper guidelines, you’ll be able to safely spend quality time with your family by the fire.
Important Ways to Prepare Your Fireplace
Don’t let your fireplace become a safety hazard. Remember the following tips as you get ready to use your fireplace.
1. Schedule an Inspection of Your Wood-Burning Fireplace
All fireplaces and chimneys should be properly inspected before they are used. Prepare your fireplace by hiring a professional to clean and inspect your wood-burning fireplace and chimney at least once a year. This cleaning will remove creosote and other flammable debris that puts you at risk for a chimney fire.
2. Inspect Your Damper and Chimney Cap to Prepare Your Fireplace
Inspect the fireplace damper and chimney cap prior to lighting a fire. The area surrounding the damper should be free of debris so that it opens and closes with ease. The chimney cap must be in good condition and firmly attached. Make sure the chimney cap has protective screening to prevent birds, squirrels, and other pests from entering your chimney.
3. Clear Tree Limbs Away
Prune any trees with branches that are dangerously close to the chimney before lighting a fire. Tree limbs may damage the chimney cap and restrict the draft from the chimney. They can even pose a fire hazard.
4. Remove Ashes to Prepare Your Fireplace
Another important way to prepare your fireplace is to remove ashes from the firebox. Vacuum or sweep up ashes when they are about an inch deep. Coals can stay hot for up to four days, so make sure they are completely cold before disposing of them.
5. Use a Fireplace Screen
To improve the safety of your fireplace, use heatproof glass doors or a fireplace screen. A fireplace barrier prevents sparks from escaping, making it essential for fireplace safety.
6. Inspect Your Gas-Burning Fireplace
Schedule regular maintenance for your gas fireplace before it is used. These fireplaces need an inspection prior to their first use each season. Hire a professional to inspect your gas-burning fireplace and make sure that all the components are operating well.
As the coldest time of the year approaches, prepare your fireplace so that your family can enjoy cozy nights by the fire.