Fireplaces and chimneys require annual check-ups. Have a member of the National Chimney Safety Guild (NCSG) who is also accredited by the Chimney Sweep Institute of America (CSIA), inspect your fireplace and chimney. Professionals with these credentials have the training and experience to properly examine your chimney, preventing possible carbon monoxide poisoning and fire outbreaks.
Between your annual chimney check-ups, keep an eye out for creosote – a dark, gummy substance that can build up on chimney walls. Creosote is highly corrosive and extremely flammable so have it cleaned immediately if you come across it.
If your fireplace produces excessive smoke indoors, make sure the damper or flue is open wide. This could also be due to a dirty chimney (see creosote above) or nests from birds or squirrels in the chimney cap — all of which can be dealt with by your new BFF, the chimney sweep.
There are two basic types of firewood: hard and soft. Hardwood may cost more, but it’s much kinder to your fireplace. Hardwoods such as ash, birch, maple and oak are more fire-resistant than softwoods like pine, spruce, cedar and fir. Not only does hardwood burn longer, but it produces less creosote and is cleaner to handle because it contains less pitch and sap.
Tend to your fireplace and make sure the chimney is in tip-top shape so that you enjoy many toasty winters to come.