The bitter winter chill is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start the winterizing process to boost your overall heating efficiency. If you’re curious about the best ways to winterize your fireplace and protect you and your family from drafts, the expert tips below are sure to help.
Get a Professional Cleaning and Inspection
Winter is prime heating season and that means you will likely rely on the safe and efficient operation of your fireplace to keep your home warm. Before lighting your first fire, schedule a professional cleaning and inspection. The removal of build-up creosote is vital to your safety, and an inspection allows professionals to find any potential issues before they become dangerous. Annual inspections and cleanings are key; if you burn more than 36 fires a year in your fireplace, you will need more frequent cleanings according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
Clean the Interior and Exterior Brick
Cleaning the bricks inside and outside your fireplace does much more than just make things more aesthetically appealing. Brick tends to hold on to dust, and when you light your first fire of the season, the resulting smell of burnt dust is rather unpleasant. Use a stiff brush and a solution of vinegar and water to scrub away dust and other impurities – both inside your firebox and out – to prevent this. Use the same vinegar and water solution to clean glass fireplace doors, and if you find there are stubborn stains on the glass, try using some of the leftover ash as a mild abrasive to get it clean.
Move Furniture, Rugs, and Other Objects Away from the Fireplace
During the summer months, when the fireplace is not in use, it’s easy to move things around and decorate in such a way that flammable materials find themselves far too close to the fire for comfort. Before lighting your first fire this winter, take a good look at the area surrounding the fireplace. Move any rugs or furniture that are situated close to the fire and be sure that you have safety gates in place to prevent curious children and animals from venturing too close, too. Never drape garlands from your hearth; a single stray spark is all it would take to set the garland ablaze.
Other Things to Check
- Make sure your damper opens and closes easily and completely. This is a matter of safety and energy efficiency. If it does not open or close properly, call a professional for help.
- Stock up on well-seasoned firewood and store it in a dry place. Never allow seasoned firewood to get wet.
- Add a chimney cap if one does not already exist. This can keep animals, snow, and other debris out of your chimney and fireplace.
- Check to make sure your fire screen is sturdy and secure.
As you can see, winterizing your fireplace involves a little forethought and some professional help in the form of a thorough sweep and inspection. As long as you start with a clean, properly-working fireplace, you will be able to enjoy roaring fires all throughout the winter.