While slogging through a snowy commute, is there anything more comforting than envisioning your cozy home, complete with a crackling fire?
Now, imagine that picture also includes a cup of hot cocoa or a glass of your favorite wine. It’s something to look forward to, isn’t it?
There are just a few things you need to do to make that dream a safe winter reality.
Chimney sweeps handle one of the dirtiest, most unpleasant home maintenance tasks. But, (usually) they only work with fireplaces that don’t need other maintenance or repairs. You don’t want to call out a chimney sweep if what you really need is a mason … or pest control.
Before calling a sweep, check for:
Over time, creosote, a flammable substance, can accumulate inside the chimney, increasing the risk of a chimney fire.
Hire a professional chimney sweep to clean out any creosote and ensure that your chimney is clear of debris and obstructions.
Most experts recommend a professional cleaning of your chimney about once a year (or every 80 fires). The Chimney Safety Institute of America offers advice on how to hire a chimney sweep. Also, be sure to check reviews on Yelp.com and similar review sites.
The firebox is the area where the fire burns. A clean firebox not only improves the aesthetics but also provides a better surface for the wood to burn efficiently.
Remove the grate and scoop out the burnt wood chunks, ash and other debris. Use a small hand broom to sweep down the walls and floor of the firebox.
Finally, use a vacuum cleaner or shop vac to suck up any remnants that remain.
Take a tour of your home to test your smoke detectors and, if you have them, carbon monoxide detectors.
“You should always check the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper method of testing your smoke detector and fire alarm,” cautions the editors at AllState.com. Use Google to search for the model number, which is listed on the alarms.
Now all you need to do is stock up on firewood. And, during the winter, don’t forget to clean out the ashes about once a week, or whenever they’re about an inch thick.
If you’re up for it, why not store those ashes in a bucket until summer? They make a delicious treat for flower and vegetable beds, according to the Oregon State University Extension Service.
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