Now the leaves have turned, and the temperature is trending downward, many homeowners anticipate building their first warm, cozy fire of the season. However, before that, there are things you should do to ensure your fireplace is ready to serve you safely and efficiently. Here are our top tips on preparing your fireplace for winter.
Clear Away Clutter
It’s normal for your home to get cluttered during summer, especially around the fireplace. People are naturally more relaxed during summer and often fail to keep up with tidiness. So, Before you light the first fire of the year, take an hour or so and clean the area around the fireplace to remove fire and safety hazards, like children’s and pet toys, furniture, newspapers, magazines, and area rugs.
Check the Smoke Alarm & Carbon Monoxide Detector Batteries
Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are crucial to your family’s safety, but more so during winter, when you regularly use your fireplace. Statistics show that most alarm failures occur because of dead batteries. Before using your fireplace, check the detector’s batteries and test them. Experts recommend replacing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every ten years because the sensors wear out. Most alarms have labels telling you when they were made, so you know when to replace them.
Clean the Hearth
When you’re finished using your fireplace for winter, it’s normal for there to be mounds of ash and residue in the hearth. If this is the case with your fireplace, take the time now to clean it thoroughly using a shovel and scoop to remove the remaining wood chips and then vacuum the ash. A clean hearth provides better airflow and combustion for a more efficient fire and reduces odors.
Inspect the Fireplace Gasket
If you have a gas fireplace, now’s the time to inspect the gasket material surrounding the door. The gasket keeps smoke and gas from spilling into the room and prevents excess oxygen.
Check Your Chimney Cap
A chimney cap is a protective covering that covers your chimney, typically made from steel or copper mesh. The cap prevents water, debris, and critters from getting into the flue, causing blockages and wreaking havoc. Because your chimney cap is exposed to the weather 24/7, it can wear out.
Inspect the Damper
Your chimney damper is a metal piece that regulates airflow through the chimney. Most dampers open and close via a rod, chain, or rotary control. Because it’s a mechanical part, it’s prone to wearing out and corroding. Make sure it opens and closes easily but remains firm once set.
If you have large trees in the backyard, it’s a good idea to trim them back before winter sets in. Tree branches that hang over the roof and chimney provide squirrels, mice, and other pests easy access to the roof and chimney. Plus, falling tree limbs from heavy storms, snow, or ice can damage the roof. Finally, tree branches can be a fire hazard if they hang over the chimney too far.
Schedule an Inspection
Call a certified chimney sweep and fireplace contractor to inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney. Certified chimney sweeps look for creosote buildup, a major contributor to chimney fires, and check the masonry materials for cracks, water damage, and other issues.
About Fluesbrothers Chimney & Fireplace
At Fluesbrothers, we’re a locally owned family company serving homeowners throughout the Kansas City area. With over a decade of service and experience, we’re always ready to help, whether you need chimney cleaning, repairs, maintenance, or stove installation.
Our technicians are trained and certified by the National Chimney Sweep Guild, the Chimney Safety Institute of America, and the National Fireplace Institute. Contact us today to speak to one of our technicians or get a free estimate at 913-236-7141.