an inspector performing a fireplace inspectionSummer seems to go by so fast. Before you know it, the air conditioning shuts off and the heat kicks on.

One of the biggest anticipations for winter is when you can use your fireplace. You grab a comfy blanket, a glass of wine, and just embrace the warmth. However, it’s important to understand fireplace safety.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 1,342,000 fires reported in the United States in 2016. These fires caused 3,390 civilian deaths and 14,650 civilian injuries.

That’s why it’s important to properly prep your fireplace for winter before you use it. Not sure how? Here are four tips on the proper way to prepare your chimney for winter.

Clean Out Debris

It’s not uncommon for leaves and twigs to fall into the chimney. However, leaving debris in the chimney can result in a fire.

Leaving wood dust in the chimney liner is also not a good idea. If high temperatures reach the materials, they will ignite, resulting in a deadly fire.

So, how can you prevent all this?

Level One Inspection

Book an inspection with a professional company offering chimney sweeping services. Most companies offer a level-one chimney inspection that includes a visual check of the fireplace and chimney. During the inspection:

  • A chimney sweep will come out with a flashlight and look for any damage, obstructions, buildup, and soot.
  • The sweep will look for common issues. For instance, is there any cracking, breaking, or spalling of the clay flue liners?
  • If necessary, the chimney sweep will use a brush, extension pad and vacuum to clean various parts of the chimney.

Level Two Inspection

After an earthquake or dramatic weather event, it’s vital to have a chimney inspection. For a level two inspection, the inspector will go on top of the roof and look in the attic and crawl space for any signs of disrepair using special tools. The inspection concludes with a chimney sweep and, if necessary, repairs.

Level two inspections are often required when a property is sold or transferred.

Level Three Inspection

Expect a demolition job. An inspector may suggest tearing down and rebuilding the chimney.

Install a Chimney Cap

A chimney cap helps prevent moisture from getting inside the system. The wire mesh serves as a spark guard, which stops hot embers from causing rooftop fires.

It’s worth looking into a chimney cap. If you already have one, have it inspected for damage. Regularly check to ensure:

  • The chimney cap isn’t missing.
  • There aren’t signs of a damaged chimney crown.
  • It isn’t leaking.

Basically, keep an eye out for anything that would lead to an unsafe chimney.

Use Seasoned Hardwoods

Don’t just use any wood for your fireplace. You want to choose a dense wood like oak.

This is because softwoods like pine are extremely flammable and can lead to buildup in the chimney. This is important for fireplace safety because you don’t want to purchase wood that’s going to be dangerous to burn.

Use a Spark Guard

What happens when the fire really gets going? You start to see little embers shooting out. If one lands on you when you’re not paying attention, you’ll feel it.

You can prevent embers from shooting out by purchasing a mesh metal screen or glass fireplace doors. These are extremely helpful if no one is in the room while the fire is starting. The last thing you need is the floor catching on fire.

Be Smart with Fireplace Safety

If you’re new to owning a chimney, don’t winterize it without help. At The Chimney Expert, we guarantee quality customer service and fireplace safety every time.

Contact us today for any questions or concerns. Our services are available in Hales Corners and Milwaukee, and we offer free estimates!