When it comes to fireplaces, most of the work is best left to professionals. Chimney sweeps recommend a professional cleaning every 40-50 fires or after burning 4 cords of wood. Here are some simple steps homeowners can take:
-Open the damper. Grab a flashlight and see whether anything is blocking the chimney.
-Next, clean the firebox of any ashes, dirt, or debris that might have accumulated during months of nonuse.
-During the cold season, make sure the ashes don’t build up to a depth of more than 2”. After the cold season, remove all of the ashes from the fireplace.
-Exterior chimney maintenance is a job for professionals, but you can make sure that the chimney cap is in good condition and that it does not become clogged with leaves or other debris. Visually examine the mortar between the bricks to ensure it is in good condition, not cracked or flaking away. Check the flashing where the chimney meets the roof and make sure there is a watertight seal. Call a mason if you note problem areas.
Now you’re prepared for a cozy fire on the cool nights to come.