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Whether you use your fireplace as a primary heat source or only when there is a power outage, it’s an efficient way to heat your home. There’s something special about the crackle of a fire in a fireplace on a cold winter night. But, to stay safe around fire, it’s important to prepare your fireplace for use before you light the first log. To help you get started, we’ve created a list of things to do to get your fireplace ready for winter.

1. Check the Chimney

To prepare your fireplace for use, perform chimney maintenance. Schedule a chimney inspection to look for broken or loose bricks and cracked mortar. If there are any problems, hire a professional to fix the damage. He or she will repair the chimney with special heat-resistant mortar. Also, hire a chimney sweep to clean the creosote out of the chimney.

2. Prepare Your Fireplace for Use by Pruning Nearby Trees

Before lighting a fire, take a look at nearby trees, especially branches that are close to the chimney or that may be affected by the draft from your fireplace. Branches overhanging your roof could break during a winter storm and damage the roofing materials or chimney. Limbs and leaves near the chimney also pose a fire risk; if embers float up through the flue those leaves could ignite. Prune overhanging branches before using the fireplace this winter.

3. Install a Fireplace Screen

Get your fireplace ready for use by installing a barrier to keep sparks from flying out. Use a metal mesh version or heat-proof glass doors. A screen works to prevent sparks and debris from escaping the fire and damaging flooring and nearby furniture. Heat-proof glass helps improve the energy-efficiency of your fireplace.

4. Store Wood Outside the Home

When you begin to stockpile wood for the fireplace, choose a spot outside and at least 10 feet away from your house. By storing firewood away from the home and on an elevated platform, you decrease the chances of termites and other pests invading your home.

Choose hardwoods that have been seasoned for at least 6 months for your fireplace. This type of wood will burn hotter and cleaner, reducing the build-up of flammable creosote in your chimney.

5. Clear Out the Ash to Prepare Your Fireplace for Use

Not only should you clean your fireplace every season before you begin using it, but you also need to clean it every time you start a fire. After enjoying a fire, allow the ash to cool for at least 48 hours before removing it. Put in a metal container and dispose of the ash in your compost bin after it has cooled completely. However, leaving one inch of ash at the bottom of the firebox makes it easier to start your next fire, so it is beneficial to leave a small layer of ash remaining.

The above 5 tasks are helpful in getting your fireplace ready for the winter season. By maintaining your fireplace and chimney, you’ll be better prepared to stay cozy, comfortable, and safe.

Cole Inspection Services offers home inspections and other services to customers in and around Statesville, NC. Contact us to request an appointment.