As cold weather descends, thoughts of cozy evenings in front of a fire fill people’s heads. While a fire provides warmth and comfort, before using your wood- burning or gas fireplace for the first time this season, it’s important to make sure that it is clean and working properly.
The steps below can be done by a homeowner or by a local fireplace installer or chimney sweep. The important thing is to make sure you are safe and your home protected:
— It is essential to make sure the chimney is clean before starting your wood-burning fireplace, stove or insert. Creosote, or unburned fuel, can accumulate in the chimney and cause a fire.
— Inspect your chimney from the outside to make sure a chimney cap is present and in good repair and that there’s no bird’s nest or buildup of debris on the cap. You should also look for tree limbs above or near the chimney, and crumbling or missing mortar and bricks.
— Inside your home, use a flashlight to inspect the flue damper to make sure it opens, closes and seals properly. You should also look for cracked bricks or missing mortar on the fireplace’s surround, hearth and firebox, as well as signs of moisture inside the firebox, which could indicate a faulty cap.
— While gas fireplaces are low-maintenance, you should still take time to inspect the glass doors for cracks or latch issues, check that gas logs are in the proper position, test the igniter and look for clogged burner holes.