“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…”
The winter solstice arrived at 12:11 p.m. (EST) today, marking the shortest day of the year. It’s already been winter-like for some of you. For the rest of the U.S., as the temperatures hover near freezing and the weatherman threatens us with snowy forecasts, we start to box up those beloved beach shorts, break out the winter coats, and start the fires roaring in the fireplace. But before that first toasty, delightful fire of the season, we have to make sure that our fireplaces are in tip top shape for winter. Doctor Flue has these easy tips to help you get ready!
Schedule a Professional Inspection and Cleaning
Inspections and cleanings performed by trained professionals is the best thing you can do to prepare for winter fireplace usage. Make sure your chimney inspection includes photos of the exterior and a video inspection of the lining and interior.
Buy your Fuel
The next step to winter fireplace preparedness is buying your firewood. Many homeowners hire contractors to deliver their wood, but you can also purchase firewood at stores. Some people prefer to cut their own wood, but using freshly cut logs is not recommended, as they tend to be high in smoke-causing moisture.
Inspect your Screen
A safe and intact screen will keep dangerous embers from escaping the fireplace. Make sure your screen is free of tears, holes, or other signs of wear, and replace if any issues are found. If there are young children in your home, it is also important to install an added barrier to keep little hands away.
Open your Flue
Opening your flue allows fresh air to feed your fire and provides a safe exit for smoke. A closed flue during fireplace use can cause your home to quickly fill with smoke. However, be sure to close the flue as soon as the fire has burned out.
Properly Dispose of Ashes
Store all ashes in a metal container until they are completely cool. Once cold, dispose of them outside, preferably far away from your home.
Educate your Family
Make sure everyone in your home understands fireplace safety. Never open the screen while a fire is burning and never place flammable materials in front of your fireplace.
Contact Doctor Flue
Has it been over a year since your fireplace has been inspected? If so, you’re due for a checkup! Remember, “Clean flues don’t burn,” Doc says. If your chimney hasn’t been inspected for creosote buildup, structural problems, or damage, now is the time.
Guest blogger Kevon Binder, Jr., is the Field Operations Manager at Doctor Flue, Inc®, a chimney and fireplace company serving southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio. He was the youngest CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep at the age of 15, and has over 15 years of experience in the industry. Learn more at www.doctorflue.com.
Editor’s note: Thanks, Kevon! And if you are looking to have your chimney inspected, you can always turn to csia.org and search for a qualified sweep by zip code. CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps: Inspect to Protect.