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Fireside Chat: Get Your Chimney Ready for Winter

With the crisp air of winter settling in, the temperature of the home becomes of more concern to homeowners. Thermostats will be turned up, heavy blankets taken out of storage, and firewood lit. In order to ensure safety when snuggled up indoors this winter, special attention should be paid to the chimney and fireplace to prepare for the cold season.

Any fireplace should be thoroughly looked over, inspected, and cleaned before the initial use each year. Though the undertaking may seem superfluous, it is necessary to make sure the home remains safe throughout the winter months.

Creosote, a dark brown or black tar deposited from wood smoke on the walls of a chimney, can be especially dangerous. An extremely flammable substance, creosote is often the cause of chimney fires, and can even catch fire from sparks flying upwards. As such, contact a professional chimney sweep to clean out any creosote or soot that may be built up.

When inspecting the chimney, there are a few key things to look for:

  • Make sure the damper, the device allowing you to close the chimney flue when not in use, opens and closes smoothly.

  • Look at the mortar and bricks or stones of the chimney; any cracks pose a significant threat for dangerous fires. If you do find any damage, contact a professional right away to fix the issues.

  • Check the chimney for animals or nests. Clean out any homes you may find, and contact an exterminator to remove any living beings. Installing a cap or screen at the top of the chimney will keep any more unwelcome visitors out in the future.

  • Move any flammable items away from the fireplace opening in your home. During warmer months, some people use the fireplace for storage. Be sure to move these items and anything blocking the fireplace to lessen the risk of fire.

Going forward, you may consider using CSLs, or creosote sweeping logs. These artificial logs contain active minerals to help clean out creosote simply by burning the product. While this will not replace a professional chimney sweep, it can help both treat existing creosote while reducing new creosote build-up as preventative chimney care.

Curl up in front of your fire and relax; you can now be confident that your home is being warmed safely.

Henthorne, Kelly D. How to Prepare Your Fireplace or Woodstove for Winter. Retrieved from
Creosote Sweeping Log. Creosote Sweeping Log. Retrieved from
Merriam-Webster. creosote. Retrieved from
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