This time of year, everybody’s getting ready for winter. You’ve probably taken your winter sweaters out of storage and put your wool blankets on the bed. You’ve closed the pool and started raking the leaves. But what about your fireplace? Is it also ready for winter?
Whether you own a wood or gas fireplace, there are a few steps you need to take to make sure your appliance is safe and in working order before the cold hits.
Stock-Up on Fuel
If you own a wood fireplace, it’s crucial that you stock-up on dry hardwood before the heating season begins. The earlier you order your wood, the better. The longer you wait, the more you’ll end up paying and the less chance you’ll have of finding good, dry hardwood.
Store your firewood in a dry, sheltered area. If possible, stack it a few inches from the ground to avoid any humidity getting into it.
If you own a gas fireplace, ask your gas company to fill up your tank. Make sure your oil tank is easily accessible during winter. After every snowfall, brush off the snow from the tank and clear a path to it.
Sweep the Chimney
Whether you own a gas or wood fireplace, have your chimney swept and inspected by a professional yearly.
When it comes to wood burning stoves and fireplaces, creosote, which is highly flammable, builds up in the chimney and becomes a fire hazard. Sweeping the chimney gets rid of the creosote and leaves you with a clean, safe chimney.
As for gas fireplaces, sweeping the chimney gets rid of any animals, dirt or insects that are potentially blocking the way.
Clean the Fireplace
Now that your chimney is clean, it’s time to clean your fireplace.
If your fireplace uses wood as fuel, you probably have an ash build-up from last year. It’s time to clean it out. Leave about an inch of ashes in your fireplace to make it easier to start a fire. Leaving too much ash makes the fire burn out too quickly. Use a scrub brush to clean the hearth. If your fireplace has glass doors, scrape the excess soot with a razor blade and clean out the rest using a piece of damp newspaper.
If you own a gas fireplace, you can clean the ceramic logs and burner ports. A gas fireplace or stove should always be inspected yearly, since its components can wear out. Worn valves, connections and gaskets as well as loose wiring can leak carbon monoxide. Ask a professional to inspect your gas fireplace when preparing your home for winter.
Test Your Detectors
Before making your first fire, make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order and change the batteries.
Fight the Cold
Now that your fireplace is ready, no need to dread the cold. Slip on your warm slippers and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate next to that crackling fire!