Preparing your heat source for winter requires specific maintenance before you can heat your home safely. This applies to a furnace, wood-burning stove, or fireplace. In this article, we’ll go over some tips to prepare your fireplace for use.
Prepare Your Fireplace With a Cleaning and Inspection
Your chimney should be professionally inspected every year. Schedule this service in fall as part of preparing your home for cold weather. Cleaning removes soot and flammable creosote build-up from the chimney that poses a fire hazard. If your fireplace has a blower, clean away the soot and dust before using it.
Inspect the Fireplace
Preparing your fireplace involves inspecting it to make sure all of the parts are in working order. Start with the damper and check to make sure it opens and closes smoothly. A damper that is stuck closed or will not stay open prevents smoke from flowing up through the chimney. A safe fire needs to be well-ventilated.
Additionally, inspect the structure of your fireplace and chimney. Check the gaskets on doors and around the opening to the ash box, if your fireplace has these. Thoroughly examine the brick or stone, and the mortar in between. Any damage should be repaired before you use the fireplace.
Attach a Chimney Cap
A chimney cap is a metal and screen cap that sits on top of the chimney. It helps to keep animals, pine needles, leaves, and other debris out of your chimney. A cap also keeps rainwater from seeping down the chimney and prevents backdrafts. Backdrafts are when smoke exits your chimney, but it’s blown back down into your home by the wind.
While preparing your fireplace for use, check your chimney cap. Make sure it is securely attached and look for signs of rodent and bird activity. Remove any animal nests. Install a cap if you don’t have one or replace a damaged one to prevent future problems.
Prepare Your Gas Fireplace for Use
Gas fireplaces function much differently than wood-burning fireplaces. Despite the differences, preparation is just as important. Your gas fireplace should be professionally serviced, with an inspection of the gas line, pilot, safety controls, and burners. Change the batteries in the receiver and remote if your unit has these. The inside of your fireplace should be thoroughly cleaned, including the glass door.
These tasks help your fireplace work safely and efficiently. Proper fireplace preparation is necessary before lighting the first fire of the season.