Winter weather is fireplace and chimney time. However, to get your best out of your chimney when the weather turns harsh, you need to prepare. Here are some basic tips to help you prepare your chimney for the winter weather.
- Get a professional chimney inspection: It is important to have your chimney and fireplace on a maintenance schedule. This way, you can be assured of a professional inspection before the winter months roll around. Even if you keep your fireplace in good condition, you need an annual cleaning to ensure that creosote build-up is not present. This byproduct of burning wood is a leading cause of house fires.
- Buy seasoned hardwood: Make sure to buy the right type of wood for use in your fireplace. This wood should have been drying for at least six months before use.
- Install or replace the spark guard: This is important to prevent embers from coming out of the fire box and causing a fire. Spark guards are especially important if the fireplace is in a room that is not always occupied or where there are small children or pets.
- Smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm: These devices should be checked to ensure that they are working properly. In most cases all that will need to be done is to change the batteries. Always keep a few replacement batteries on hand just in case. The standard is to replace the batteries every six months.
- Check for birds or rodents: If there is no cap, birds and small rodents will build their homes inside the chimney. It is important to check if there are nests or small critters before lighting up. This is something you can do yourself.
- Maintain an emergency kit: It is important to keep an emergency kit handy to deal with any accidental burns.
- Fire extinguishers: Every home should have a fire extinguisher handy. If you use a chimney and fireplace, this is even more important. Everyone in the house should know how to use the extinguisher.
- Clean the fire box: Make sure that your fire box is clean, so all ash and embers should be removed.
- Make sure there is a cap: A cap is important for keeping rodents, birds and debris from getting into the chimney. It also prevents water from getting inside. Moisture can damage the masonry and prevent the chimney from working as it should.
- Clear the Area: Make sure that there are no items too close to the fireplace that can ignite such as furniture and rugs. All combustible items should be removed from directly in front of the fireplace.
Once you have your chimney checked and any issues fixed, you can enjoy the cozy warmth of your fireplace without worries. You should give yourself an early start by checking before winter. This will give you adequate time to have any issues fixed. Give us a call here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service at 610-626-2439 if you would like to schedule an appointment with our CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps.