One of life’s greatest simple pleasures is curling up in front of a blazing fireplace with a hot beverage and a good book or enjoying the company of family and friends. As the temperature in the Washington DC Metropolitan area falls, there will be many opportunities to enjoy your fireplace. However, having a safe and aesthetically pleasing experience requires some preparation before the season begins. Whether your fireplace is a burns wood or gas, there are some things that you should do to prepare your fireplace for the winter.
Clean your fireplace and surrounding area
Your fireplace is the centerpiece of your home, so you want it to look good, especially during the winter when it’s in use. Use a broom, not a vacuum cleaner, to sweep up and remove any leftover ashes in the hearth. Clean the surrounding masonry with soap and water or a commercial cleaner. If you have a glass spark guard, a good cleaning with water and vinegar will give you a clear view of your fire. You can also use ash to clean the glass. Here is a video that you may find helpful.
Have your fireplace and chimney inspected
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, every fireplace and chimney should be inspected by a professional chimney sweep at least once a year. A chimney professional will do a complete examination of both the exterior and interior of your chimney as well as the fireplace. They will ensure that everything is functioning properly, that there are no obstructions of flammable deposits in your chimney, and that the masonry or stonework doesn’t have damage that could possibly cause a fire. Never attempt to inspect your chimney yourself. Always hire a professional.
Have your chimney cleaned
During your annual inspection the technician will determine if your chimney needs to be cleaned. If they recommend it, make sure that you follow their advice. Never delay getting your chimney cleaned. Burning wood smoke contains chemicals that can build up on the inside of your chimney in the form of creosote, which is highly combustible. A chimney sweep service will remove these dangerous deposits so that you can fully enjoy your fireplace.
Install a cap on your chimney
A chimney cap outfitted with a wire mesh cover that fits over the top of the chimney will keep snow, rain, animals, leaves and other items out of the chimney and fireplace. If you already have a cap, check it to make sure it hasn’t been damaged. Replace it if necessary.
Use a spark barrier
If you don’t already have one, it’s a good idea to invest in a metal or glass spark guard. Stray sparks and embers can ruin your carpet or rugs. They can also catch fire. A spark barrier also keeps the kids and pets from accidentally falling into the fire or throwing things into it. Spark barriers come in a wide variety of styles and can add beauty to your fireplace.
Choose the right firewood
Wherever you get your wood, make sure it’s a hardwood like oak or maple to ensure maximum heat and the least amount of smoke. Soft resinous woods like pine will build up more creosote and lead to more cleaning and chimney maintenance.
Here is a great video about picking the right firewood.
If you’re ready to have your fireplace and chimney prepared for the winter, All Pro Chimney is ready to serve. Contact us today for a free estimate.