There are few things cozier than a wood-burning fireplace in your home to keep you warm during the winter. Before you build your first fire of the season, follow these simple tips to get your fireplace ready for the cold months.

Get Your Fireplace Ready with Cleaning and Maintenance

‏Before building a fire, make sure that the fireplace and chimney are clean. Creosote, tree debris, and even animal nests could be inside your firebox or chimney. It’s always best to hire a professional chimney sweep to clean the chimney every year. To minimize debris and pests, purchase and install a chimney cap to keep materials out of your chimney.

‏Inspect the fireplace to make sure everything works. Most importantly, you need to check the damper. The damper is located right above the firebox and allow you to control the airflow so smoke and fumes leave your home through the chimney.

If the damper won’t open, do not start a fire. You’ll run the risk of exposing the family to carbon monoxide gas. Check for cracks and missing bricks or stones, both inside and out. If you’ve hired a chimney sweeper, they most likely did this inspection for you. If there are any issues, call a professional to make repairs and get your fireplace ready for use.‏

‏Fireplace Readiness: Building the Fire‏

‏Once you have gotten your fireplace ready by having it cleaned and inspected, it’s important to keep it clean and in good working order. One of the biggest problems in a fireplace is creosote, a byproduct of burning wood. You can reduce the build-up of creosote in a few ways. ‏

‏For starters, only use dense, dry, well-seasoned hardwood. Softer, greener woods produce more smoke and contribute to more creosote build up in the chimney.‏

‏Next, don’t build your fire too big. A good, clean fireplace with a slow-burning fire will warm you and your home, so there is no need to build a huge, roaring fire in your house.‏

‏Finally, never use products like lighter fluid to start your fire. Place all your logs at the back of the fireplace on the metal grate and use kindling, like dry leaves and twigs, to start the fire. It will built from a small ember to comfortable flames. ‏

‏Taking these steps will get your fireplace ready and make it safe for use. Enjoy a warm fire to help lower the utility bills that come with heating your home in the cooler months.

Homesmith Home Inspections provides inspection services to customers in Houston and the surrounding areas in Texas. Contact us to request an appointment.