The cozy season is here and nothing compares to the appeal of the soft amber glow of a crackling fire when the temperatures drop. It is time to curl under a blanket in front of the fire with a good book while sipping hot chocolate. As the season coincides with the holiday season, it is imperative that you prepare the fireplace for both heating and decoration purposes.
The fireplace is not a mere appliance but an essential component of the home, which needs regular maintenance and upkeep for a smooth function and aesthetic appeal. But before you fire up a gas or wood-burning fireplace in the cold season, there are a few things you must address. Here are tips to prepare your fireplace for fall and winter.
Why do you Need to Prepare the Fireplace?
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Every season before using your fireplace, you must subject it to proper inspection, cleaning, and preparation. This mandatory preparation is necessary to remove creosote and other debris that may block the chimney; address any cracks or loose bricks; repair deterioration or missing mortar; check for water damage.
A thorough inspection is essential to prevent any mishaps that come with failure to properly clean chimneys, which is a leading factor contributing to house fires in many cases. A well-prepared and cleaned fireplace can improve air quality in the house, prevent fires save energy and keep the place warm. Therefore, you should inspect and prepare your fireplace for fall and winter.
Note: A wood-burning fireplace should be cleaned once a year while a gas-burning fireplace should be cleaned every other year.
Prepare Fireplace for Fall and Winter
How to Prep Wood-Burning Fireplace?
Hire a Chimney Sweep
According to the National Fire Protection Association, chimneys should be swept at least once a year to get rid of fire hazards such as soot and debris at the beginning of the winter. Instead of doing it yourself, you may want to consider hiring a chimney sweeper for a proper job. You can find a certified sweep in your area via the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
Check for Damage or Debris
Ensure the fireplace damper opens and closes smoothly. Inspect the chimney for birds, bird nests or other pests. Then, check the mortar and bricks for any signs of damage or cracks, both around and in the chimney. Failure to address any issues can lead to severe fire hazards. Hence, hiring a professional to help with the inspection is a wise decision.
Check the Chimney Cap
A chimney cap is a wire-mesh fitted cover on the top of the chimney. It keeps rain, birds, pests and debris from entering your home. If you have a cap in place, check it for damage or missing parts and repair it. If you don’t have a cap, install a new one to ensure good working conditions for the chimney top.
Use Seasoned Hardwood
Seasoned hardwoods are the best pick for a freshly cleaned fireplace including dense woods such as oak, nicely split and stored in a high and dry place for over six months. They produce less smoke, whereas green wood and resinous softwoods such as pine generate more creosote, which is a combustible by-product of combination. But remember to build small fires that lead to less creosote buildup. Large fires can cause cracks in the chimney.
Install a Spark Guard
While building a fire, you should place logs on a metal grate at the back of the fireplace. Instead of using flammable liquids, you should use kindling to start the fire and install the spark guard afterward. It will prevent wayward cinders from coming out of the firebox with a mesh metal screen or glass fireplace doors.
How to Prep a Gas-Burning Fireplace?
Experts recommend you have your gas-burning fireplace serviced on regular basis. Hire a qualified technician to service your fireplace every other year. The service call includes cleaning the air path of both the pilot and main burners to make sure they are functioning properly.
Clean the Blower
Compared to furnace blowers, the blowers of gas-burning fireplaces are not equipped with a filtering system to prevent the accumulation of dust and soot. Dust buildup can cause premature wearing and damage to the appliance. It can also insulate the motor, preventing it from cooling properly and causing motor failure.
Also Read: Festive Fireplace Mantel Decoration Ideas for Christmas
Before each season, you should check and replace the batteries in any remote transmitters and receivers to ensure smooth operations. You should also change the batteries and test any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly.
Fireplace Safety Tips to Keep in Mind
There are a few things you should keep in mind for your safety and the people around you. Before preparing and lighting up logs in your fireplace for fall and winter, familiarize yourself with these safety tips.
- Do not use charcoal in a fireplace as it can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Install a screen or spark guard to keep sparks and embers from getting out of the fireplace and setting the house on fire.
- Do not let kids and pets near both wood-burning fireplaces and gas-burning fireplaces.
- Take off any hanging decorations from the fireplace mantel before lighting a fire.
- Ensure to open the damper before lighting the fire and keep it open until the fire is completely out.