If you’ve been procrastinating when it comes to fireplace maintenance, now is the time to act. January and February – along with their freezing temperatures and wintry precipitation – are just around the corner. The following tips will go a long way toward ensuring that your fireplace will keep you warm and cozy all throughout the winter.
Get a Chimney Sweep and Inspection Now
It’s important to have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year and ideally before the start of each heating season. The earlier in the fall you schedule your cleaning and inspection, the better. Chimney professionals are at their busiest during the winter months, and that means you may not be able to get emergency repairs or cleaning if needed in the middle of the deep freeze. Schedule your sweep and inspection now so you can rest comfortably in the knowledge that your fireplace will be in good working order all winter long.
Stock Up on Firewood
There’s nothing worse than running out of firewood with a foot of snow on the ground, and that’s why the experts recommend stocking up for the entire season early.. Firewood is typically less expensive during the summer, so if possible, stock up between heating seasons to save yourself some money. A 1000-square-foot home uses roughly three cords of firewood per season, and a large 4000-square-foot home would need roughly 12 cords. It’s always better to overestimate your needs than to underestimate, as well.
You should also think about how and where you will store your firewood to keep it dry throughout the winter. If you must store it outside, be sure it is up off the ground and covered tightly with a tarp. Otherwise, keeping it inside a storage shed is the best bet.
Prepare Your Fireplace for Heating
Now that your chimney has been thoroughly cleaned and inspected by a professional, you’ve stocked up on firewood, and that firewood is properly stored, it’s time to get your fireplace ready for the first fire of the season. To do it, follow these steps:
- Clean the interior of your fireplace with a stiff brush dipped in a solution of vinegar and water; then allow it to dry completely.
- Clean glass fireplace doors with the same solution and ensure those doors close completely.
- Operate your damper and make sure it opens and closes without the need for excessive force. Check your damper regularly throughout the heating season.
- Install a fire screen if you do not already have one; this will keep pets and children from venturing too closely. Some fire screens fit around the hearth, and others fit just outside the firebox itself.
- Move furniture, rugs, garlands, and other flammable decorations away from the fireplace, the hearth, and the mantle since a single ember can lead to disaster.
- Clean your fireplace tools or, if you do not have them, invest in them. Ideally, you will want a five-piece set: a poker, a shovel, a brush, a log lifter, and a stand that holds them.
The big chill is on the way and it won’t be long until you’re ready to relax and take comfort in a warm, crackling fire. Now is the time to start making your preparations. Be sure to schedule your professional appointment, buy your firewood, and invest in the proper safety accessories and tools sooner rather than later.