It won’t be long before we’re switching the thermostat from AC to heat and getting ready to stoke the fire. But before we break down the kindling and create that cozy setting, there are a few steps to take to ensure safety and efficiency.
Have all fireplaces and stoves (wood, gas, or pellet burning) professionally inspected and cleaned every year (no less than every other year). The leading cause of residential fires from wood-burning appliances is the result of unburned fuel (creosote).
Cleanings should be sure to include chimneys, gaskets, and blowers. Stoves and fireplaces, unlike furnaces, are not equipped with filters. This is also a good time to replace batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors (if you don’t follow the age-old and reliable rule of changing them annually at daylight savings time).
Also check to make sure the damper or flue opens and closes smoothly and that there are no cracks in the chimney’s bricks and mortar. Be sure to remove all flammable or sensitive materials that may have accumulated near the fireplace over the summer (newspapers, magazine, craft projects, chargers, décor).