A fireplace is one of the most enjoyable parts of a home. It provides the backdrop for family photos, gives a relaxing warmth to the room, and adds beauty. It is often easy to forget that a fireplace needs to be maintained appropriately before using it each year. These 4 steps will help you in preparing your fireplace for use.

Gathering the Proper Equipment

As you are preparing your fireplace for use, remember that safe operation requires some basic tools and fixtures. These include a poker, a shovel, a fireplace broom, and a screen. The fireplace should not be used without these essential items.

Some other items can be helpful, like a small bucket for storing kindling and a childproof container for matches. This will keep everything close at hand while reducing the chances of an accident. It will also cut down on clutter around the hearth. Have a fire extinguisher easily accessible to the fireplace area.

Preparing Your Fireplace With an Inspection

While you should hire a professional inspector for the fireplace, look at it yourself first. By taking a close look at your fireplace, you can find simple things that need to be corrected. You can also identify potential problem areas that the inspector will examine further.

Check your fireplace from top to bottom, making sure that mortar joints are intact. Look for any shifting of the chimney’s structure or evidence that water is finding its way into the flue. Clear away last year’s ashes, and make sure that the damper can be fully opened and closed. After you have performed your own inspection, schedule an inspection with a licensed chimney contractor and discuss any concerns you have.

Preparing Your Fireplace With a Cleaning

We know that fires produce smoke, but they also produce substances that can clog the chimney. Creosote is a thick, tarry substance that accumulates in the flue. It is flammable, so there can be enough of a buildup to cause a chimney fire. Bird nests and other debris can fall down into the chimney, especially if the cap is damaged or missing.

A proper cleaning by a licensed chimney sweep is essential. Schedule it well in advance so that a cold snap won’t come while you’re still preparing your fireplace for use.

Stock Up on Quality Firewood

You may think that all wood is the same. However, the type and condition of wood make a big difference in the efficiency and safety of the fireplace. When preparing your fireplace for use, stock up on hardwood that has been seasoned for at least 6 months. Fresh or unseasoned wood produces more creosote, creating hazardous conditions.

A fireplace is a beautiful and relaxing feature in a home. It provides heat and a cozy atmosphere through the coldest times of the year. When you’ve spent some time preparing your fireplace properly, you can enjoy it safely.

Inspector Ed provides home inspection services to the New York City area. Contact us to schedule an appointment.