A fireplace is a comforting feature in a home. It provides heat, beauty, and an inviting atmosphere. Your fireplace may not be ready for use when the first cold days arrive since its only used part of the year. Come fall, take these steps to prepare your fireplace for use.

Prepare Your Fireplace Damper

The damper is an essential part of the fireplace. It opens and closes to allow air to enter and smoke to escape. A damper that has rusted or gotten stuck may not be easy to adjust. Inspect your damper and make sure it operates easily before starting your first fire of the year.

Check the Condition of the Flue

The flue is the passage inside a chimney that smoke travels out of the home through. Obstructions in the flue can cause a chimney fire or make the house fill with smoke. A flue inspection is a vital step as you prepare your fireplace for use.

During the summer, bird nests and other debris can collect in the flue. Creosote, a residue created by slow-burning wood, may have built up on the flue walls. Look into the flue from below with a flashlight for any obvious problems. Also, schedule a chimney inspection for the flue and the exterior of the chimney.

Stock Up on Quality Firewood

One important step to prepare your fireplace is to get seasoned firewood. Softwoods like pine burn quickly and produce little heat. Freshly cut wood produces more creosote than wood that has been seasoned for 6 months or longer. Stock up on seasoned hardwood and keep it dry and raised off the ground.

Clean the Firebox to Prepare Your Fireplace

On the last cold day of the previous winter, you probably let the fireplace burn out, closed the damper, and shut the fireplace doors. Now the ashes and charred chunks of wood from the last winter are still there. Scoop all the ashes out as you prepare your fireplace. Not only is it easier to light a new fire in a clean firebox, but it also minimizes the dust you stir up as you place new logs on the grate.

Fireplaces need annual care to make sure they are ready for use. Before you bring in the first bundle of wood this winter, prepare your fireplace for use. A fireplace that is clean and operating normally will be more relaxing and safe to use.

Reifsteck Home Inspections provides home inspection services to Champaign, Illinois and the surrounding areas. Contact us to schedule an appointment.