When the temperatures drop, that’s a good sign it’s time to get your fireplace operational. Lack of upkeep and maintenance can make using the fireplace and chimney unsafe. So, before building the first fire of the season, here are a few helpful tips to prepare your fireplace for use.

Inspect the Fireplace

Every component must be in good condition for your fireplace to function safely. A damaged chimney with loose bricks and cracked mortar must be fixed immediately. Failing to perform necessary repairs may result in a hazardous situation.

Hire a chimney inspector to examine the condition of the structure. Leave repairs to experts with the proper tools and materials for the job.

Test the Smoke Detectors

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are crucial for keeping your family and home safe. Test the devices monthly and replace the batteries at least once each year. 

Install smoke detectors on or near the ceilings throughout the home. Smoke rises, and these alarms are most effective higher up. Carbon monoxide detectors operate best when placed lower on the walls. CO gas tends to settle and is best detected by devices at knee height.

Prepare Your Fireplace by Hiring a Professional Chimney Sweep 

If you’re inexperienced in chimney care, it’s best to hire a professional to clean the flue. Built-up creosote, soot, and other debris are fire hazards and prevent the fireplace from functioning efficiently. Hire a trained professional to clean your chimney and inspect it for damage. 

Check the Damper

The damper is an integral part of your chimney. It helps to regulate airflow and prevents temperature-controlled air from escaping your home through the flue. The damper should remain closed when you aren’t using your fireplace, but you’ll need to open it before starting a fire. 

Before building a fire, try opening and shutting the damper to determine if it still functions properly. If it’s not opening or closing smoothly, have it repaired or replaced before using your fireplace.

Prepare the Inside of Your Home Before Using the Fireplace

Once you’ve thoroughly inspected your chimney and fireplace, there are several ways to prepare your home before enjoying a fire.

  • Install a screen or glass door in front of the fireplace. The purpose of the barrier is to prevent sparks or rolling logs from starting a fire in your house. 
  • Store extra firewood and flammable items away from the fireplace. 
  • Declutter around the fireplace. Remove magazines, toys, and other clutter that has accumulated nearby. 
  • Rearrange the furniture and move rugs and draperies so they are at least 5 feet away from the flames.

Use these tips to prepare your fireplace before winter and keep your house safe and warm.

Express Inspections, LLC provides home inspection services in the Chicagoland area. Contact us to schedule an appointment.