Before you spark up the logs in your fireplace, there are some things you need to do beforehand.
- Hire a professional to do a chimney sweep. It is recommended that chimneys get swept at least once a year usually at the beginning of winter. This is to remove any soot and debris that may potentially cause fire and/or keep smoke from exiting the flue.
- Have a professional check for damage. Chimneys should be inspected for loose bricks, cracks and/or compromised mortar. The chimney liners should also be inspected for cracking or wear.
- Cap the chimney. Caps are wire meshes that are fitted to the top of the chimney. This keeps animals, birds, debris and rain from entering the chimney. Be sure to repair or replace caps if compromised.
- Build your fire correctly. Place logs on a metal grate toward the backside of the fireplace. Use tinder, rather than flammable liquids to start your fire.
- Burn only seasoned hard wood in the fireplace. Use wood like oak that has been split, dried and stored in an elevated location – off the ground. Wood that has been dried thoroughly produces less smoke than damp wood when lit. Please note that green wood or resinous wood like pine can produce high amounts of creosote, a highly flammable product that can build up in the chimney.
The Wikipedia definition of creosote: “Creosotes are a category of carbonaceous chemicals formed by the distillation of various tars and by pyrolysis of plant-derived material, such as wood or fossil fuel. They are typically used as preservatives or antiseptics.”
- Prevent embers from exiting the fireplace by using proper guards – ie, metal screen or glass fireplace doors. This is to prevent damage to nearby furnishings but mostly, to prevent unwanted fires!
- Don’t overload your fireplace. Fires that are too large/hot can compromise a chimney and build up too much creosote.
We do hope these guidelines are helpful to you for preparing your fireplace for the season. Consult with a professional to inspect your chimney annually to make sure everything is up to code. By having your chimney inspected by a qualified professional, you should enjoy years of trouble-free operation of your fireplace. We wish you and your families a warm holiday season!!