The leaves are changing, and the weather is getting cooler – it’s time to start thinking about using your fireplace again. Here are five steps to prepare your fireplace for fall and winter. By following these tips, you’ll avoid problems when you want to light a fire on the first cold day of the year.

Hire a Chimney Sweep

As the weather starts to cool and you begin to prepare the fireplace, it’s essential to make sure the chimney is clean. A professional chimney sweep will remove soot or debris that has built up, reducing the risk of a chimney fire. In addition, a clean chimney will help improve your fireplace’s efficiency, making it easier to keep your home warm all winter. Before you light a fire, hire a professional chimney sweep for a cleaning.

Prepare Your Fireplace by Trimming Overhead Branches

One crucial step in preventing fires is to prune overhanging tree branches. If branches grow near the chimney, they may come in contact with sparks from your fireplace, catching fire and igniting your roof. Before building a fire, trim branches hanging over your house. This simple precaution could save your home from a devastating blaze.

Make Repairs

To keep your home cozy this winter, seal cracks or gaps where heat might escape. Don’t overlook the fireplace. Start by checking the masonry for damage. Cracks or chips in the bricks or stone can let heat out, so it’s important to repair the damage. Make sure that the flue is in good condition and that there are no gaps around it. Taking these steps can help prevent heat from escaping through your fireplace and keep your home cozy all winter long.

Get Firewood to Prepare Your Fireplace

Stock up on seasoned hardwood. This wood has dried for at least six months, making it better for burning in a fireplace. Seasoned hardwood produces less smoke and creates less creosote buildup in your chimney. It’s more efficient to burn and safer. When purchasing seasoned hardwood, use a moisture meter to test the wood. The moisture content should be 20% or less.

Install a Fireplace Screen

A fireplace is a cozy spot to relax on a cold winter night. Prevent accidents by installing a fireplace screen. A screen keeps sparks and embers from flying out of the fireplace and onto your floor. It’s also a good idea to have a fire extinguisher handy in an emergency. When you have finished using the fireplace, close the flue to prevent heat from escaping.

Following these steps for a safe and enjoyable experience using your fireplace this fall and winter.

Altamont Inspections offers inspections to homebuyers and sellers in Western North Carolina. Contact us to schedule our services.