Staying Home More This Winter? 12 Tips for Preparing Your Fireplace

(BPT) – Temperatures are dropping and leaves are changing. It must be fireplace season. Now through the fall and into the winter, it’s likely we’ll be spending more time around our fireplaces than any year prior.

“The hearth is the heart of our homes, and the fireplace is a symbol of safety in an ever-changing world. It can provide warmth, ambiance and a feeling of security,” said Jack Goldman, President and CEO of Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA). “Especially this year, our fireplace will be a near constant companion as we stay at home more through working remotely, distant learning, binging TV, reading books, celebrating holidays and making new memories.”

October is #NationalFireplaceMonth, the ideal time to ensure your fireplace is in tip-top shape as you prepare for the great indoors over the next several months. HPBA encourages homeowners to have their fireplaces, vents and chimneys inspected each year by a specialist. Contact your local specialty retailer for recommendations. In the meantime, consider these tips to make the most of your time by the fire:

Wood fireplace? Be sure to:

1) Hire a professional chimney sweep to clean out soot and debris from last season.

2) Check the chimney to ensure the structure is sound. Any cracks? Bricks coming loose? Loose mortar? Grab a ladder if you are able and do a proper inspection.

3) Does your fireplace have a door? Be sure the gasket sealing the door is properly attached to regulate oxygen.

4) Before you light that first fire, check that your chimney damper is open.

Gas fireplace? Be sure to:

5) Check your outside vents to ensure they are free of debris. Otherwise, a buildup of carbon monoxide could occur inside. Also, ensure your vent screens are properly attached to keep the critters out.

6) Check the glass. Be sure there are no chips or cracks or other signs of distress to prevent CO2 seepage.

7) Clean the rocks and logs. Dust can build up over spring and summer. It keeps your fireplace beautiful and prevents odd smells when you start the fire.

8) Clean the blower. Once a month, unplug your blower, brush its dust, then vacuum the residue.

Gas or wood, be sure to:

9) Check the chimney cap to be sure it’s clear of debris and damage free to keep the outside from coming in.

Electric fireplace? Be sure to:

10) Keep all combustible materials — pillows, curtains, furniture, etc. — at least three feet away from the unit.

11) Remove any obstructions to the fresh air intake and hot air discharge vent for easy air flow.

For all fireplaces, be sure to:

12) Create a playlist of your favorite fireside songs — tunes that help you chill out while you warm up. Consider HPBA’s 2020 “Official Playlist for Fireplace Season.”