Nothing ushers in the holiday season quite like a few nights curled up with a blanket in front of the fireplace. Don’t wait until the weather dips cold enough for that first fire to figure out what kind of maintenance your fireplace needs. Maintaining your hearth will provide a season of safe burning, with proper air-flow and ventilation. In preparation for the winter months, let’s look at some simple to-do’s for prepping your hearth for cold weather.
1. Sweep that Chimney
It’s imperative that you have your chimney swept at least once a year for safe burning. Chimney sweeps must always be performed by professionals, due to the necessary expertise and equipment. Energy Center-Manhattan Pool has certified chimney sweeps on staff! Let us get up there and clear out the creosote and soot, so that you can curl up by the fire all season long.
2. Clean it Up
If you still have last year’s ash and debris littering your fireplace floor, it’s important to clean that out. A good tip in cleaning up the ash is to spray it down with a little water first. This approach will help avoid a cloud of dust. Using a shop vac is a great way to clear it all out quickly and efficiently. If you have a glass door covering the fireplace, go ahead and clean that as well. We highly recommend cleaning your fireplace glass with Hearth and Stove Cleaner from Speedy White, sold in store!
3. Check for Damage
Now that your hearth is clean, check for any cracks in the mortar or missing bricks. You will want to examine the masonry on the exterior of your chimney as well. Any noticeable issues will require a professional’s help. Significant cracks, missing bricks, or leaning fireplaces pose a fire risk.
4. Damper and Cap
Test the damper or flue. Make sure it opens and closes with ease, and that no debris is clogging the opening. Examine the top of your chimney to confirm it is covered with a cap, ideally with wire mesh sides. The cap is an important way to keep unwanted animals out. Those are not the kind of pets the kids are wanting for Christmas. It also protects your home from incoming rain and other elements. Don’t forget to check for bird nests or other blockages.
5. Remove Fire Hazards
Trim back any tree branches that are close to your chimney. Trimming cuts down on debris in the fireplace, as well as preventing a fire hazard. Double check your furniture arrangement, and make sure nothing flammable like couches or curtains, décor or books are situated too close to the fireplace.
6. Choose Your Wood
For wood burning fireplaces, choosing dry and well-aged wood is ideal for cutting down on smoke and buildup. Wet or green wood will create an abundance of smoke and will not burn evenly. (If you have a gas fireplace, make sure to clean the blower and replace the batteries in any transmitters or receivers.)
7. Safety First
Before using your fireplace, test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and install new batteries if necessary. Having a fire extinguisher in an accessible area close to your hearth is a great idea. Fireplace safety is so important, and it’s always better to be too safe than sorry.
Lastly, ENJOY! There is nothing quite like experiencing the holidays with your loved ones, gathered around a crackling fire. Prepping your hearth for cold weather doesn’t have to be a headache. Our skilled technicians at Energy Center-Manhattan Pool are ready to make sure your fireplace is in top condition to kick this season off without any worries! We also sell and install wood, gas and pellet stoves, as well as wood, gas and electric fireplaces. Come check out all of our hearth accessories, and we’ll be sure to make this a winter to remember!