As the first cold front rolls in, you might think about building a fire in your fireplace. However, to do this safely, there are a few steps to take first. Prepare your fireplace for use by completing all the tasks on this list:
Clean Out the Firebox to Prepare Your Fireplace
The last time you had a fire in your fireplace at the end of winter, you may have left ashes and charred logs in the fireplace. Before starting your first fire this fall, it is important to clean out the firebox. Remove everything left over from the previous season and sweep out the ashes. Then use a mild dishwashing solution to scrub the walls and floor of the firebox.
Professional Chimney Sweeping
While you can clean the firebox yourself, you should leave cleaning the chimney to a professional. After a season of using the fireplace, soot and creosote have built up in the chimney. These are flammable substances that could ignite inside the chimney if exposed to high temperatures. Also, animals tend to build nests in chimneys during spring, so you’ll want to make sure these are cleared out before starting a fire. Schedule a professional chimney cleaning service at the beginning of fall.
Prepare Your Fireplace with Quality Firewood
The type of wood burned in your fireplace will affect its condition. Fresh wood contains more moisture and produces creosote when it burns. Your chimney will accumulate creosote more quickly when you burn unseasoned or softwood varieties. At the start of autumn, stock up on seasoned hardwoods to last you through the cold season. Store them away from your house in a covered and raised area.
Check Out the Moving Parts
Your fireplace has moving parts like the damper, vent, doors, and screen. Make sure all these parts are operational and function smoothly before lighting up your first fire. You don’t want anything to get stuck once the fireplace is hot.
Improve Safety at the Hearth
During the months that the fireplace was not in use, you may have piled up items on the hearth or mantle. These all need to be cleared away so that there’s a safe area around the fire. A stray ember could fly out of the fireplace and ignite something nearby. Place a fireproof mat at the hearth to protect your floors.