Cozying up to a fireplace is one of the most enjoyable parts of winter. But before you gather by the fire, it’s important to prepare your fireplace for use. Without maintenance, cleaning, and adequate preparation, your fireplace can put your home and family at risk.

Tips to Prepare Your Fireplace

Though wood-burning and gas-burning fireplaces each have different requirements, homeowners should follow maintenance recommendations when using either type of fireplace. You’ll help prevent fire hazards and emergencies when you prepare your fireplace for fall and winter.

Prepare Your Fireplace by Having it Cleaned

Prepare your wood-burning fireplace for use by hiring a professional chimney sweep. With the proper tools to clean fireplaces, chimney sweeps clear out debris, including soot and creosote that can make for a dangerous situation.

In addition to hiring someone to clean out the chimney, inspect the fireplace for any damage. If there is any deterioration of the bricks, mortar, or other areas of the fireplace, repair the damage before the fireplace is used.

Install a Chimney Cap to Prepare Your Fireplace

An open, unused chimney provides shelter for bats, squirrels, and birds to build nests there. Installing a chimney cap helps keep pests out and rain from getting into your chimney. If it’s windy outside, the wind can blow into your chimney, causing a downdraft and blowing smoke into your home. A chimney cap is shaped to block the wind. It also helps block embers from the fire from floating up the chimney and landing on the roof.

Service Your Gas-Burning Fireplace

Prepare your gas-burning fireplace for use by hiring a qualified technician to inspect and service the fireplace. During this visit, the technician will clean the airways for the main burners and pilot. You’ll know that your gas fireplace is operating properly and safely. Along with hiring a professional to service the fireplace, be sure to replace the batteries in remote controls.

Follow Best Practices for Fireplace Safety

Before using your fireplace, replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Get rid of potential fire hazards by removing any flammable items around the fireplace, and install a fireplace screen. Open the damper before lighting a fire and leave it open until the fire is out completely. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher and that you and your family members know how to use it.

A cozy fireplace warms the home during the colder months. Make sure your fireplace is safe by following the guidelines to prepare your fireplace for the season.

VA Inspect offers home inspection services in Central and Southern Virginia. If you’re buying or selling a home, contact us to request an appointment.