If you have a fireplace in your home, follow these steps to prepare your fireplace for use before building your first fire of the season.
Have the Chimney Swept
The first step to take to prepare your fireplace for use is to call a chimney sweep for a cleaning. Creosote and soot build up on the chimney walls and increase the risk of a chimney fire. A chimney sweep will remove this buildup and clear twigs, leaves, birds nests, and other debris out of the chimney. While on the roof, the chimney sweep will inspect the exterior of the chimney for cracks or damage that could be a problem.
Prepare Your Fireplace for Use With a WETT Inspection
Have the firebox, damper, and flue inspected by a Certified WETT Technician. It is important that the damper operates correctly before using the fireplace so that smoke and carbon monoxide is vented outside of the home. The inspector will report on any repairs needed to prepare your fireplace for use. Some insurance companies require this inspection.
Cap the Chimney
If your chimney does not have a cap or if the cap is damaged, this should be addressed before using the fireplace. A chimney cap keeps sticks, leaves, and acorns from falling into the chimney and prevents animals from building nests inside of it.
Stock Up on Seasoned Wood to Prepare Your Fireplace for Use
Don’t burn freshly cut wood in your fireplace. Fresh wood creates too much smoke and moisture when burned, which leads to an excessive buildup of creosote. Stock up on dry firewood that has been seasoned for at least 6 months. Store the majority of the wood in a dry area outside of the home and only bring in small bundles at a time.
Use a Spark Barrier and a Hearth Mat
Your fireplace should have a screen or glass door to prevent sparks from flying out of the firebox. You should also have a fire-resistant hearth mat or rug to protect your floor. If you are missing either of these accessories, purchase them to prepare your fireplace for use.
Check the Batteries in Smoke and CO Detectors
You should already have a smoke and CO detector near your fireplace, but not right next to or above it because it may cause false alarms. Before using your fireplace this fall, press the test buttons on the alarms to make sure they are working. If they are battery powered, change out the batteries for good measure.