Now that winter is winding down and warmer days are just around the corner, you may be gearing up for your spring cleaning. If you haven’t already added your fireplace and chimney to the list, now is the perfect time, and the checklist below will help you make sure you don’t overlook any important steps.
Clean Out the Firebox
The first step in prepping your fireplace for the offseason is cleaning out the firebox. This is often as simple as removing any leftover ash and using a paste made of baking soda and your favorite household dishwashing liquid to remove stubborn soot. You will also need a strong scrub brush (plastic is preferred), some rubber gloves, and clean water for rinsing. A spray bottle with water will help you keep your paste nice and wet as you scrub. Just apply the paste, let it sit, then scrub and rinse it away along with the soot.
Schedule a Professional Inspection
The offseason is one of the best times of year to schedule your annual safety inspection with a professional chimney service. This is very important as it ensures that all the various parts of your fireplace and chimney – including the damper, chimney cap, liner, and other components – are in good working order. If any of these parts were to fail, they could result in fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, devastating water leaks, and much more. Call a professional today to schedule your inspection.
Don’t Skip the Cleaning
In most cases, you can have your chimney swept (cleaned) at the same time as your inspection. A professional cleaning involves using specialized tools to remove the buildup of soot from the inside of your chimney. This soot contains creosote, a flammable combustion byproduct. If creosote is not cleaned frequently, it can lead to chimney fires or improper damper operation. You should have your chimney cleaned at least once each year and again when 1/8” of soot is visible to minimize the buildup of creosote and keep the cleaning process as simple and straightforward as possible.
Close the Damper and the Fire Doors
Finally, after you’ve cleaned out the firebox and your professional inspection and cleaning is complete, it is time to finish up the job by closing the damper and the fire doors. The damper is a flap inside the chimney. During the winter, when you are building fires in the fireplace, the damper should be open to allow toxic smoke to escape. However, when there is not a fire burning, and during the offseason, you should close the damper to keep out pests and minimize your cooling needs. Last, clean and close the fire doors tightly.
Once you follow each of these steps, your chimney will be clean and in good repair. This means that you can enjoy the summer months filled with trips to the beach, barbeques, friends, and family with peace of mind, and by the time winter comes back around later in the year, your fireplace will be ready for that comforting first fire of the season.