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home maintenance  /  September 20, 2021

10 Steps to Get Your Fireplace Ready for Winter


Getting ready for Winter includes getting the fireplace ready.  There is nothing as cozy and warm as a fire during those winter months.  Make sure you look over this list before lighting that first match.

  1. Fireplaces should be inspected yearly and cleaned by a professional (think 80 fires, if you don’t use it a-lot).  You want to get the creosote out of the chimney – this oily and highly flammable byproduct of burning wood can catch fire.
  2. Check for any damage on the outside firebricks and masonry.  Don’t try to fix it with regular mortar, this mixture cannot stand up to high heat!
  3. Check your fireplace damper – is it working properly and ensure there is no debris preventing it from opening and closing.  Check to make sure the cap is firmly attached – this keeps out birds, squirrels and bats that can nest in the summer.
  4. Tree limbs – did anything grow over the chimney?  Make sure you prune any overhanging tree limbs
  5. Time to clear out the ashes – you should do this once per week during fire season or when the ash is 1” deep.  Coals can remain warm for up to 3 days! Remember wood ash makes perfect food for plants in gardens or to add to your compost pile.
  6. Heat proof glass doors can improve the energy efficiency of your fireplace. They can also prevent sparks from escaping. If you have doors – clean with a paper towel and glass fireplace door cleaner.
  7. Do you have a brass surround?  You can clean it with tomato sauce or ketchup.  Let it sit for 1 hour, then clean with hot soapy water.
  8. Good quality firewood – you will need to get this and store it away from the house.  Hardwoods like oak, maple and birch burn hotter and longer than pine.  Do NOT burn painted or treated woods!
  9. Gas?  Make sure to check the pilot light and that all vents are clear.  Check the logs, liners and burners for cracks and replace and damaged parts.
  10. Electric? Check all the wires and make sure that none are frayed or broken.  All make sure all connectors have a good fasten.  It is a good idea to vacuum out dust as well.

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