How to Winterize a Fireplace

As we head into the coldest months of the year, it’s time to get your fireplace up and running for the busy season. There’s nothing like huddling around your mantle as you enjoy a crackling fire in the comfort of your home. But if not cared for properly, your fireplace can turn those soothing evenings into a fire hazard. Fireplaces require regular upkeep. If it’s been a while since you’ve inspected your fireplace, you might want to think twice before lighting up your living room this winter. Use these tips to pull your winter fireplace out of retirement.

Hire a Professional Chimney Sweep

The chimney lets air and smoke flow freely out of your house. If there’s anything blocking or trapping air in your chimney, your entire house will fill up with smoke. Unless you know your way around your chimney, it’s best to hire a professional chimney sweep to clear away any debris. If you hire a fireplace professional, you can also ask them to inspect the unit for damage, including the foundation, damper, flue, and other potential problem areas.

Clean Out the Firebox

Cleaning out the firebox should be a part of every fireplace owner’s routine. If you haven’t cleaned out the soot, ash and burnt kindling sitting in your firebox in a while, you’ll need to take care of that before you start a fire. You can keep the ash contained by sprinkling a little water on the firebox before you start sweeping.

Inspect the Damper and Flue

The flue controls the opening to the chimney, while the damper allows you to quickly adjust the strength of your fire. Make sure that the flue and damper open and close properly. You can use a mirror and a flashlight to see what’s happening up the chimney. If you notice any problems, you can try cleaning the damper or the switch that controls the flue. These parts tend to rust or get stuck after a while, so you’ll want to keep an eye on them throughout the season.

Test All Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms

Make sure that all the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home are working properly. They should have a full battery as you head into winter. If you don’t have any alarms near the fireplace, you can always add a few more around your home where smoke tends to collect.

Cap Off Your Chimney

As a final touch, inspect the cap on your chimney. If you live in a heavily wooded area, animals can crawl their way inside the opening and wreak havoc on your home. Tree limbs and debris can also slip inside if your chimney isn’t properly covered.

Don’t take a chance with your fireplace. Be a responsible homeowner and make sure that your winter fireplace has met all the necessary safety requirements before you start a fire.

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