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Getting Your Fireplace Ready for Winter

Annual Chimney Inspection in Dubuque, IAWhen you’re enjoying the warm and sunny weather, cleaning your fireplace and chimney is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Let’s face it. It’s a chore that few homeowners enjoy. But we all know that colder weather is on the way. That’s why now is the perfect time to prepare your chimney and fireplace for winter.

Sweep the Chimney

Soot, ash, creosote, and other particles can take a toll on the inside the chimney. And the more creosote accumulation, the more difficult it is to remove. But since it is the number one cause of chimney fires, its removal should be a top priority. It is strongly encouraged to hire a certified chimney professional. These professionals follow industry-standard guidelines established by the National Fireplace Association (NFPA). The NFPA, along with fire safety experts, recommend sweeping the chimney at least yearly.

Test the Damper

The damper is a metal component that acts like a trap door forming an airtight seal to protect the fireplace and chimney interior from outside elements when not in use. The damper is usually in the neck of the chimney, but if you have a top-down damper, it is located near the top of the flue. It should freely open and close. If the damper is rusted or will not seal properly, it should be replaced.

Inspect for Damages

Whether you have a brick, stone, or prefabricated chimney, you will need to carefully examine it for cracks, gaps in the mortar joints, missing bricks or stones, and other masonry damages. You will need to inspect the entire interior and exterior portions of the chimney from top to bottom. Any damages should be repaired before using the fireplace in the winter.

Install a Chimney Cap

Chimney Sweep in Apple Canyon, ILThe chimney cap is affixed to the crown and covers the exposed flue while allowing smoke and fumes to vent. The wire mesh screen keeps small animals, pests, and debris out of the flue, but the tiny holes can become covered in soot and creosote, making it difficult for dangerous fumes to escape. The chimney cap should be cleaned along with the rest of the chimney. Replace the chimney cap if there are signs of damage. And if your chimney is uncapped, contact your local chimney professional to install a chimney cap as soon as possible.

Replace Batteries in Smoke and CO2 Detectors

Preparing your fireplace for the winter is an ideal time to test and replace batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO2) detectors. Homes that use solid or liquid fuel heating appliances should install a CO2 detector on every level of their living space.

For Gas Fireplaces

Although gas is a cleaner burning fuel, it still produces creosote and requires an annual chimney and fireplace cleaning. You should also clean the burner and make sure the pilot light and blower motor are in good working order. Also, replace worn ceramic logs.

For Electric Fireplaces

Electric fireplaces are increasingly growing in popularity. The only maintenance required is to regularly dust the unit to remove any dirt or dust particles. Also, be sure to inspect the wires and connections.  Consult your local fireplace dealer for repair if any wires are frayed or damaged.

Hire a Certified Chimney Professional

It’s best to leave the fireplace and chimney cleanings and inspections for the professionals. When you hire a certified chimney professional for your annual cleaning and inspection, you have peace of mind knowing that you will be able to reduce energy costs while keeping your home and family safe throughout the winter season.

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