Fall may have just arrived, but winter will be here before we know it! After a long summer of disuse now is the perfect time to ensure your chimney is ready for the arrival of cold weather. The following tips can help you get your fireplace ready for winter’s arrival.
An annual chimney sweeping and inspection remains the most important – and most effective – way to care for your fireplace system. This regular maintenance ensures your chimney is in good condition, free from damage or deterioration, and ready to burn efficiently all winter long.
Chimney sweeping should never be considered a DIY job. Instead of attempting to do it yourself or using products such as chimney sweeping logs, rely on a true industry professional. CSIA certified chimney sweeps have the education, training, and skill to properly care for your chimney system. Likewise, sweeps use the chimney inspection as a way to troubleshoot ongoing chimney issues or identify new areas of chimney damage.
Second, Buy the Right Firewood
Not all firewood is created equal; the type of wood you use impacts the health of your chimney system as well as how the fire burns. The best wood for indoor residential fireplaces are hardwoods; elm, oak, and maple are popular hardwoods that burn hotter, longer, and produce less creosote and smoke than their softwood counterparts. Softwoods such as fir, pine, and spruce should be avoided in indoor fireplaces as they burn slowly and produce large amounts of smoke.
It can be tempting to throw cardboard, wrapping paper, or other forms of trash into the fireplace – especially when unwrapping gifts around the holidays. However, trash and paper products should never be burned in an indoor fireplace. Fires fueled by paper and cardboard can quickly burn out of control, damaging surrounding furnishings or walls. Likewise, burning products other than wood can release chemicals and compounds that cause damage to chimney components or affect interior air quality.
Third, Properly Dispose of Ashes
Whether you use your fireplace a few times each winter or burn nearly every day, it is important to properly dispose of the ashes. Fires should be allowed to extinguish naturally; stoking the ashes as they cool can prevent pockets of coals or embers from hiding in the ashes. After they have cooled, shovel the ashes into a special ash container. Ash containers should be metal, a handle for easy carrying, and should have a base that prevents them from sitting directly on the ground.
Ashes should never be stored in a flammable container such as a paper bag and should not be mixed in with other trash in trash cans or dumpsters. Embers and coals can remain active in ashes for up to three days; if ashes are mixed in with regular trash it can lead to accidental fires. Check with your sanitation company for their rules or regulations for disposing of ashes.
The winter burning season is just around the corner; follow our tips to make sure your fireplace is ready for the cold months. For more information on preparing your fireplace for winter contact Coopertown Services today.