Whether we’d like to admit it or not, the leaves are changing and the temperatures are starting to drop – especially in the evenings. It’s smart to use this time to inspect, clean and prepare your fireplace for winter, so you’ll be good to go when that first snow falls. Follow these steps to be sure your wood-burning fireplace is ready to heat things up.
- The easiest way to start an unwanted fire in your house is by not consistently examining your chimney. The National Fire Protection Association recommends hiring a professional chimney sweep once a year at the beginning of winter to remove built up residue and inspect for fire hazards. They should also check for any structural damage such as cracks or loose parts that could be potentially dangerous.
- While the professional chimney sweep will examine this, open up the chimney flue anyways to be sure birds, small animals and debris haven’t set up camp during the summer. The flue should be opened before starting any fire throughout the winter, and closed after the fire is completely extinguished.
- The next step is to give the rest of your fireplace a thorough cleaning. If there are still soot and ashes left over from last year, start by removing piles of ash with your fireplace shovel.
- Lining the bottom of the fireplace with newspaper, use a wire brush to scrub the walls. Falling soot will land on the newspaper so you can easily dispose of it.
- Mix a gallon of warm water with about a cup of Seventh Generation dish soap and use to scrub the walls and floor of your fireplace to get rid of that hard-to-remove soot and ash.
- Use a vacuum, broom or both to clean excess soot away from the front of the fireplace.
- Don’t forget to take your andiron and any other fireplace tools you may have and wash them off outside! Use the same water and dish soap mixture and scrub with your wire brush.
Be sure to invest in a guard or screen to put in front of your fireplace if it doesn’t have glass doors – especially if you have pets or little ones running around.