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How to Prepare Your Fireplace or Woodstove for Winter

By
4 of 6

When winterizing their homes, most people are start with the furnace (as they should), but they often forget all those other heat-producing devices throughout their homes. Every fireplace, woodstove, or space heater should be inspected prior to the first winter usage.

Do the following when checking all the fireplaces in your home:

  • Contact a professional chimney sweep to clean out any creosote and soot that might be built up. Creosote in your chimney actually can catch fire from sparks flying upward.

  • Inspect the damper to ensure that it opens and closes smoothly.

  • Check the mortar around any bricks in the chimney or surround for cracks. These can cause dangerous fires if not fixed. You might need to bring in a professional if you find serious cracks in either the bricks or the mortar.

  • Check the chimney for birds, bird nests, or other rodents. Install a cap/screen at the top that will keep them out going forward.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Greg Nicholas]
    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Greg Nicholas

Do the following when checking any wood-burning stoves in your home:

  • Ensure you have enough wood for your regular winter usage plus about 20 percent. If you are suddenly facing an extra-cold winter, you'll be ready for it. Any extra wood will not be wasted; you can use it next year or for your summer wiener roasts.

  • Clean the exhaust pipe/chimney before your first usage and periodically throughout the year. You want to ensure that all ash, soot, and creosote are removed regularly.

  • Inspect the damper to ensure that it opens and closes smoothly.

  • Remove any flammable items from anywhere in front of the woodstove. Some people actually use their stoves to store magazines or other items during the warmer months; you want to be sure that anything like this is far away from the flames.

  • Check the exhaust pipe/chimney for birds, bird nests, or other rodents. Install a cap/screen at the top that will keep them out going forward.

Be sure to check any space heaters before you use them. First, make sure that the electrical power cord is in good shape without any breaks or tears. Also make sure that all space heaters are plugged into a grounded outlet.

Do not use space heaters for large areas of your home or as your main source of heat. They can be dangerous if left running while the home is unoccupied. And, except for the newer infrared types, they can use a lot of electricity and run up your power bill.


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