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Preparing Your Fireplace for Cold Weather

As the weather starts to get colder, more and more homeowners use their fireplaces as a way to keep warm and add ambiance to their homes. This year, before old man winter rears his ugly head make sure your fireplace is ready for the long burning season! The following tips can help you prepare your fireplace for the coming cold weather.

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1. Open the flue

After a long summer of disuse, you may want to open the flue before you light the first fire of the season. Before you plan on using your fireplace, open the damper for several minutes. Feel for airflow or drafting; a lack of air flowing down the chimney when the damper is open could indicate that there is a chimney blockage.

Next, if the temperature outside is significantly colder than the inside air consider warming the flue before starting a fire. After opening the damper, light a small bunch of kindling or newspaper and hold it directly below the opening of the flue for several minutes. Doing this warms up the air inside the flue, which can help prevent a sudden downdraft of cold air – as well as smoke, ash, and soot – when the main fire is started.

2. Find the right firewood

The kind of firewood you buy and burn can have a big impact on the safety and efficiency of your fireplace system. Residential fireplaces do best when burning seasoned hard woods like oak, ash, or elm. Hardwoods are able to burn longer, hotter, and produce less smoke than soft woods like firs and pines. Likewise, seasoning the wood removes the majority of the moisture; doing this creates less creosote and allows the fire to burn hotter and more efficiently.

3. Don’t overload the fireplace

Many homeowners believe that in order to get a roaring fire their fireplace needs to be stuffed full of wood. However, when it comes to fireplaces less is often more! A small fire is not only more manageable, but will burn hotter and thus produce less creosote. Try experimenting with different firewood stacking techniques to find one that gives you the best fire for your home.

4. Use safety equipment

Whether you have a wood or gas fireplace, safety measures or equipment can help ensure everyone in your family can safely enjoy a fire. Spark guards, metal screens, and glass doors can all prevent coals and embers from popping out of the fireplace and onto your floors or furnishings. Likewise, baby or safety gates can help keep small children or pets away from the fireplace, minimizing their risk of accidental burns.

5. Hire a chimney sweep

The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be swept at least once per year, preferably at the beginning of the season. Having your chimney swept removes any ash, soot, or creosote from the chimney, allowing your fireplace to operate more safely and efficiently. In Long Island, trust Guaranteed Chimney Service to clean and care for your chimney system!

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