5 Tips to Enjoy Your Fireplace This Winter

The days are getting shorter, the air is crisp, and the temperature is starting to drop. For many of us, this means it’s time to grab a nice blanket and get cozy up to the fire with your loved ones. But before it starts to snow, it’s important to make sure you service your chimney to avoid disaster.

Your Chimney is not a Tree Hollow for Woodland Critters: If you have a wood-burning fireplace it is important to regularly inspect, clean, and maintain it. Deter animals from nesting in the chimney with a chimney cap and properly sealing small entry points.

Dry vs. Damp Wood: Dangerous creosote residue builds-up in chimneys with each use, and chimney fires spread quickly and can severely damage or destroy your entire home within minutes. Dry wood burns hotter and creates less creosote when burning. It is best to burn dry wood, even though it’s often less readily available. This wood has been sitting in a dry place for at least one year, and preferably longer. Check out the color: thoroughly dry wood looks dark or grey on the outside and white on the inside.

Long Burns are Better: Long-burning fires reduce creosote buildup because creosote sticks to cold chimney walls better. To minimize the amount of creosote buildup, burn fires for longer so that the chimney walls stay warmer for longer.

The “Invisible Killer,” Carbon Monoxide: The large change in temperature in your chimney can cause cracking that allows carbon monoxide to build up and circulate back into your home. Make sure you install a carbon monoxide detector in your home and service your fireplace on a regular basis.

Frequency of Inspection and Sweeping: While some products claim to “sweep out” chimney creosote, nothing beats proper inspections and cleaning. Hire a reputable chimney inspector each year. Depending on your usage level and the findings of the inspector, you will find out if sweeping is necessary or not.

Use Common Sense: While it is handy to have tinder and additional fuel nearby, ensure it is at least two feet from the fireplace. Consider buying another fire extinguisher, too, in case of an emergency.