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Winter Fireplace Maintenance Guide

With the warm and cozy atmosphere that a fireplace brings into our home, it’s easy to forget about the responsibilities that come with them. With around 41% of homes having fireplaces in them, it’s easy to forget that you’re containing a burning fire inside of your flammable house.

For this reason, it’s essential to take the proper precautions before the fire-burning season starts. Here’s a helpful winter fireplace maintenance guide and how to prepare a fireplace for winter!

Inspect Your Chimney

Maintaining a fireplace starts with routine inspections. Chimney sweeps are not a thing of the past. We need to have our chimneys inspected every year for safety’s sake.

A clogged chimney can lead to fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills 430 Americans each year, as well as irreversible buildup that can cause you to need a new chimney. Spoiler alert; they aren’t cheap to replace!

Check For Cracks In the Fireplace

Damage to your fireplace can result in carbon monoxide leaks, which can cause lethal consequences. Always inspect your fireplace for potential cracks or damage that may have occurred during its off-season.

Make Sure The Damper Is Working Properly

Inspect the damper and make sure it can open and close properly. Lay down on the floor and look up, don’t just go by feel. This is the only way to ensure the smoke is exiting your house as designed and not causing a buildup in your home.

Make Sure There Are No Trees Around Your Chimney

Prune any trees with branches hanging over your chimney. This could cause a serious fire that could spread to your house, your neighborhood, or your nearby forest!

Clear The Ashes

Every month during the fire season, you need to clear the ashtray. If the ashes overflow, they will smother your fire and pose safety risks. Always dispose of them in a metal container and keep them away from your house or any flammable debris!

Install A Fireplace Draft Stopper Or A Safety Screen

A fireplace is only as secure as its door. Having a heatproof glass door will improve your fireplace’s energy efficiency and prevent sparks from damaging the surroundings or causing a fire.

Check All The Vents And Make Sure The Pilot Light Is On

For an electric fireplace, you still need to take a look at the vents to ensure there is no buildup or debris. Even if you cleaned out your winter fireplace in the spring, pests could have easily made a nest in there by now.

Double-check everything, make sure your system is plugged in, and take a look at the pilot light. If everything is clear and the light is on, it should be okay to start under your direct supervision.

Check All The Wires

If you have an electric fireplace, double-check the wires before turning it on. Mice or pets could have chewed them or there could be an issue with the plugs, so it’s best to double-check ahead of time.

Gas Fireplace Safety Tips

Gas fireplaces come with some specific risks. Here’s how to ensure you can run yours as safe as possible this winter.

Check Carbon Monoxide Detector

Every house with gas appliances or wood-burning stoves needs a carbon monoxide detector. Test yours before winter to ensure that it’s working properly.

Don’t Adjust The Logs

Adjusting the logs won’t help improve the fire quality enough to make it worth it. Leave them alone in your gas fireplace, or add more as needed.

Don’t Clean The Glass When Turned On

Don’t burn yourself by trying to clean the glass or metal while the fireplace is running. It will heat the liquid and reach your hand much faster than you’d think! Read our guide on gas fireplace cleaning to learn more.

Don’t Block Fans And Vents

This is a serious fire hazard. Keep all obstructions away from blowers and vents at all times, and make sure everyone in the household knows this as well (children included). Also, if you have a baby in the home, make sure you babyproof your fireplace!

Wait A Bit Before Lighting Pilot Light Again

Once everything is clear, let any remaining debris settle before lighting the pilot. When the time comes, light it and supervise it closely to ensure it is burning as designed.

Wood-Burning Fireplace Safety Tips

Wood-burning fireplaces also come with a unique set of safety risks. Here are a few to watch out for!

Burn Dry & Untreated Wood

Seasoned firewood is essential for a wood-burning fireplace. Wet wood will create more sparks, clog your vents and chimney much faster, and lead to a host of other issues.

Make Sure The Damper Is Open

If your damper is shut, all of that smoke will be coming right back into your home, and opening it while the fire is hot is a great way to get burned. Always check this before lighting your first fire of the season!

Don’t Burn Random Objects or Charcoal

Starting your fire with a firestarter, some newspaper, or a piece of cardboard is no big deal. However, you don’t want to ruin your several-thousand-dollar fireplace with random objects or poison your household in the process. Wood-burning stoves are designed for wood only!

The Takeaway

Fireplaces are designed to contain a controlled fire inside your home.

Typically, fires and houses don’t go together, which is why it’s so important to ensure that you are taking all of the necessary precautions for the health and safety of your and your family. Now that you know how to prepare a fireplace for winter put these tips to use today!

A little diligence goes a long way, so follow these tips, keep up with maintenance throughout the winter, and feel free to contact us with any questions.