While a toasty fire adds ambiance and warmth to your home, it’s important to keep in mind that it requires maintenance to keep your fireplace safe. Get the most out of your fireplace this winter by maintaining it properly and taking safety precautions.

1. Keep Your Fireplace Safe With an Annual Chimney Inspection

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, you should have your chimney inspected each year. If a chimney is dirty or clogged, a chimney fire can start. This can cause damage to the chimney, or worse, allow smoke and carbon monoxide into your home. A chimney inspection will check for conditions that may contribute to a chimney fire starting.

The Chimney Exterior

The inspector will inspect the chimney masonry for cracks and other signs of deterioration, like missing or crumbling bricks. Catch this type of issue early on with an inspection before the problem gets worse. The chimney should also have a cap on it with a mesh screen to keep any debris from getting in, including nesting animals. The inspector may recommend that you have the chimney swept before first use.

2. Make Sure Tree Limbs And Branches Are Cleared

Tree limbs that are hanging over your home and getting too close for comfort should be a warning sign for any homeowner. This is especially important when you’re talking about your chimney. Branches approaching your chimney need to be dealt with promptly. Tree pruning can be a hazardous job and it’s often best left to the professionals due to safety and the health of your tree and home.

3. Maintaining the Firebox

Before the first use of your fireplace, you should clean the firebox of ash, soot, and debris. Then for subsequent fires, leave a 1-inch layer of ash at the bottom of the firebox to help start and maintain fires. Checking your fireplace from the inside with a flashlight is an important step. If you have moisture inside, it can mean a problem with your cap which needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Also, you should check for cracks in your bricks or mortar that may indicate structural failures.

4. Install Glass Doors

While a fireplace can add a great deal of heat to your home, drafts can be a problem when it comes to your heating bill. A fireplace has to be vented yet hot air rises, which means you can be losing heat during the cold winter months. Even when you close the damper, they are not always airtight. This is why having glass doors for your fireplace is a great idea to make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible. Glass doors keep your fireplace safe by preventing sparks and embers from shooting out of the fireplace.

MN Pro Home Inspections offers home inspection services to the Twin Cities and Western Wisconsin. Contact us to schedule an appointment.