Colder weather is closing in on us and it won’t be long before you are sitting in front of a fire snuggling with a loved one, watching a movie or just enjoying a good book. Before you get that fire going, have the piece of mind that you need that your home is safe from any problems that might come from your fireplace.

Here are a few things that you should do before sparking up that fire for the cold winter ahead.

  1. Hire a Chimney Sweep
    The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be swept at least once a year at the beginning of the winter to remove soot and debris. Find a certified sweep in your area via the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
  2. Check For Damage
    In addition to cleaning, a chimney sweep should inspect the chimney structure for cracks, loose bricks, or missing mortar. Chimney liners should also be checked for cracking or deterioration.
  3. Cap The Chimney
    A cap fitted with wire-mesh sides covers the top of the chimney and keeps rain, birds, squirrels, and debris from entering. Replace or repair a cap that’s missing or damaged.
  4. Burn Seasoned Hardwoods
    Choose dense wood, such as oak, that’s been split and stored in a high and dry place for at least six months. Green wood and resinous softwoods like pine produce more creosote, a flammable by-product of combustion that can build up in the chimney.
  5. Don’t Overload
    Small fires generate less smoke, thus less creosote buildup. Also, a fire that’s too large or too hot can crack the chimney.
  6. Build It Right
    Place logs at the rear of the fireplace on a metal grate. Use kindling, rather than flammable liquids, to start the fire.
  7. Use A Spark Guard
    Prevent errant embers from shooting out of the firebox with a mesh metal screen or glass fireplace doors. A guard in front of an open flame is especially important when the room is unoccupied.

Article courtesy of This Old House