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How to Prep Your Fireplace for the Cold Season

fireplaces yankee doodle westport ctThere is no better place to relax on a long, cold night than beside a roaring fireplace. Along with creating a welcoming atmosphere, using your fireplace is a great way to cut down on your heating costs during Connecticut’s chilly winter months. A heat-efficient fireplace can comfortably zone heat your living area. Before you light up your gas or wood-burning fireplace, be sure it is safe to use.

To prep your fireplace for the cold season, follow these 3 steps.

Step 1: Clean the firebox and glass doors

If you haven’t removed all the ash in the firebox from last burning season or cleaned the glass doors, now is the time. We recommend laying newspaper down on the floor in front of the fireplace and lightly spraying the ashes with water before sweeping them out of the fireplace. This will make the cleanup easier.

When you are cleaning the fireplace doors, make sure to use a fireplace glass cleaner from your local home improvement store or a fireplace retailer. Do not use Windex or any other ammonia-based glass cleaner. Ammonia-based glass cleaners can leave behind a damaging residue and are not formulated to cut through the carbon deposits left on fireplace doors.

Step 2: Visually inspect the fireplace and chimney

If you have a gas fireplace:

  • Inspect the glass plate to make sure there are no cracks and check to make sure that the glass doors latch and seal.
  • Shut off the gas line so that you can safely test the pilot light and inspect the fuel line. Check to see if the pilot light ignites and look for any clogged log holes.
  • If your fireplace has an exterior vent, check to see if there are any black scorch marks around it. If so, it is a sign that the ceramic logs need to be cleaned.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace:

  • Check the damper to ensure that it opens, closes and seals properly. It is a good idea to use a flashlight to inspect it so that you can see if it is rusted or warped.
  • Look at the walls of the firebox for watermarks or broken pieces of bricks and mortar. These may be a sign of a chimney leak of chimney damage.
  • Visually assess the outside of the chimney. Be on the lookout for:
    • Tree limbs hanging above or close to the chimney.
    • A bird’s nest, leaves or lawn debris clogging the chimney cap.
    • Loose flashing (this is the metal strip that bridges the space between the chimney and the roof).
    • Missing pieces of brick or mortar.
    • Cracks in the crown (the beveled cement block that covers the top of the chimney).
    • A missing or rusted metal chimney cap or chase top.
    • A slanting chimney that leans to one side instead of rising straight up.

If you notice any problems, call on a professional chimney technician or certified chimney sweep! Fireplaces and chimneys are complex systems that should be inspected and serviced by a trained professional.

Step 3 – Schedule an annual chimney cleaning and inspection

Even if you have not noticed any problems during your inspection, your fireplace and chimney should be professional cleaned and inspected at least once a year. If you did not have it cleaned and inspected during the summer or autumn, you should now. This is especially important for wood-burning fireplaces. Creosote, a highly flammable compound that builds up in wood-burning chimneys, is the leading cause of house fires. Having your chimney professionally cleaned once a year is the best way to protect your home from a fire.

Yankee Doodle Wood Stoves and Fireplaces CTIf your old fireplace cannot combat the winter cold, stop by Yankee Doodle to find a fireplace insert to transform your fireplace into an effective heating appliance! We have a large selection of the best, energy efficient fireplaces, inserts and freestanding stoves. We will arrange professional installation for you once you find the heating appliance that meets your needs.