‏A fireplace is a great way to warm your home during the colder months. However, before you build your first fire, complete some basic checks and maintenance tasks to prepare your fireplace for use. ‏

‏Why You Should Prepare Your Fireplace for Use

‏You may be tempted to just dive in and start using your fireplace after months of it being idle. However, this is not a good idea. When not properly maintained, a fireplace can start a house fire. First, make sure everything is safe so that this doesn’t happen to you.‏ Before you start using your fireplace, verify that everything is structurally sound and alarms are functioning as they should.

‏Check for Damages

‏Checking for damage is one of the first steps as you prepare your fireplace for use. Hire a professional to inspect the chimney for any cracks, loose bricks, and deterioration, and to make sure that the chimney is securely attached to your house. Lastly, don’t forget to check for water damage. This will not only be harmful to your fireplace and chimney, but to your entire house. ‏

‏‏Chimney Cap and Damper Inspection

‏‏The fireplace damper should be working properly. Start by making sure there is no debris preventing the damper from easily opening and closing. Also, confirm that the chimney cap is securely attached and in good condition.

There must be a protective screening on the chimney cap to stop birds, squirrels, bats, and other pests from getting into the chimney. If this screening is missing or damaged, arrange to have it replaced immediately.‏

‏‏Sweep the Chimney to Prepare Your Fireplace for Use

‏After verifying that the chimney is structurally sound, you can move on to the job of cleaning it. It’s recommended that you hire a chimney sweep before you start using your fireplace. Clean your chimney and fireplace each year to eliminate dangerous soot and debris.‏

‏‏Check That Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms Are Functioning Properly

‏‏Once everything is clean and ready for use, check that your safety devices work. Test the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. This is a very important safety precaution that should never be skipped as you prepare your fireplace for use.

If you haven’t replaced the batteries in over a year, go ahead and replace them with new ones. If any of your alarms are more than ten years old, invest in newer models to keep your home protected.

‏The above steps will provide you with a properly functioning fireplace that will help keep your house cozy and warm through the colder months.

Monadnock Home Inspections provides home inspections to Southern New Hampshire. Contact us to schedule an appointment.