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Fall is Here – Prepping your Fireplace for the First Burn of the Season

Starting a fireplace - Chimney Sweep NYIt’s fall, and it’s probably been months since you last used your fireplace.  Depending on how you left the fireplace at the end of the previous winter, it’s likely there are some things you should do as part of prepping your fireplace for the first burn of the season.  Here’s a simple guide to making sure your fireplace runs efficiently and safely in the coming cold months.

Cleaning and inspection

No matter what else you do to your fireplace in preparation for fall and winter, a professional cleaning and inspection of the firebox, chimney and all components must be on the list.  A large percentage of house fires in the United States begin because of excess creosote buildup in the chimney or misuse of the appliance.

What to expect during annual service

Professional chimney sweeps will perform a variety of tasks to get your fireplace ready for the winter season.  These tasks include:

  • Thoroughly cleaning the chimney to remove built-up soot, creosote and debris such as twigs, leaves, bird nests and whatever else may have found its way into the structure
  • Inspecting the lining of the flue, looking for cracks and deterioration, which can lead to intense heat spreading into unprotected wall materials and causing a fire
  • Inspecting the exterior of the chimney for signs of deterioration that could allow rain water and water from melting snow to enter the chimney structure and surrounding materials
  • Checking the condition of the damper and chimney cap, ensuring they’re operating and performing correctly
  • For gas fireplaces, making sure all vents, valves and connections are in good working order

Often a chimney/fireplace inspection will turn up a few things that need repair or replacement.  All recommended work should be performed before starting your first fire of the season.

Good fireplace practices

Burn only seasoned, or dry, wood: Dry logs burn efficiently with minimum smoking.  Wood that hasn’t had time to dry will burn unevenly and create excess smoke.

Storing your logs: You need to keep firewood in a place that’s completely free of rain and melting snow.  If there’s any chance moisture will get to the wood, cover it with a heavy tarp.

Stacking logs in the firebox: Remember that fire needs sufficient oxygen, so stack logs with some breathing room and don’t over-fill the firebox.

Use a grate: A metal grate is ideal for setting up your logs as air can easily flow beneath the stack.  It’s never advisable to stack logs on the floor of the firebox.

Mendota Fireplace InsertUse fireplace screens or doors: A fire should never burn without some kind of protection against sparks and embers popping out into the room.  Keep the doors closed or use your screen.  If you don’t have a screen, buy one.

When it’s time for fireplace cleaning and inspection, homeowners count on Hudson Valley Chimney, serving the greater Poughkeepsie, N.Y., region.  We’ll get your fireplace ready to run safely and efficiently all winter.  Schedule an appointment or call with questions: (845) 471-1071.

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