There are less than two weeks left of fall, Winter starts on December 21st. It’s time to light the fires and snuggle up in those flannel P.J’s with some hot chocolate. Before you light that fire, follow these few steps to make sure that your house is safe from a potential fire due to a messy chimney.

INSPECT YOUR FIREPLACE EACH SEASON

Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and chimneys all require annual inspections to ensure safety. Take a flashlight and peek inside your stove and chimney to check the condition of the firebricks and the amount of creosote (a chemical by-product created from the burning of wood and coal) lining the chimney.

Chimney caps should be examined for deposits. If you do not currently use a chimney cap, think about installing one, as they prevent birds and other animals from invading an unused chimney and making nests. Chimney caps also deflect rain, which can otherwise create a burnt smell in your home.

CLEAN YOUR CHIMNEY

If you see black and flaky creosote deposits, use a wire brush to scrub them from the chimney or stove walls. If cleaning from above, chimney brushes work best. You can purchase a chimney brush at The Home Depot or your local hardware store.

BLOCK ASH

You don’t need ash and soot blowing into your home, contaminating your indoor air quality and potentially dirtying and discoloring your furniture. Be sure to put a guard in front of the fireplace to prevent ash from entering.

CHECK FOR DRAFT

That’s right, you want a draft in a chimney, as this is what draws the smoke up and out of your home. Without a proper draft, both smoke and flames can make their way into your living chimneyspace, potentially causing property and lung damage and even a home fire.

To check for a draft, light a match in the chimney and quickly extinguish it to see where the smoke travels and how quickly it moves. Once you have established an effective draft, you can be certain of a safe fireplace.

Maintaining a clean, well-tended fireplace plays a vital role in home fire safety, especially if your family likes to curl up beside a warm blaze on cool Fall evenings. By performing these checks, you go a long way to preventing dangerous smoke damage and house fires.

These tips were recommended by Paul Davis Restoration http://restorationportland.com/