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Does Your New Home Have A Traditional Fireplace? Tips For Upkeep And Maintenance

When you purchase a home with a traditional fireplace with a chimney that towers above your roof, you may be excited at the prospect of getting cozy in front of a roaring fire during the winter. However, to enjoy the perks of a working fireplace, you must keep it in good operating condition and learn some basic fire-building and chimney maintenance skills. If you have never owned a home with a fireplace, the following guide provides you with a primer on its upkeep.

Get the Chimney Inspected As Soon as Possible

If you are still in the negotiating stages of purchasing your home, make sure the chimney is included in the pre-sale inspection. A chimney inspection is a wise investment as it can uncover defects that may end up costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars down the road. You want to make sure the structure is safe to operate and is not a fire hazard.

A certified chimney inspector will look for signs of structural damage such missing bricks and damaged masonry. An inspection will also uncover problems such as creosote buildup, internal obstructions and combustible deposits.

If any repairs are needed, you can use the inspection report to re-negotiate the final price of your house.

Learn How to Build and Maintain a Fire

Starting a fire seems like a simple task. However, there are some crucial dos and don'ts you need to follow if you want to enjoy the warmth of your fireplace in a safe manner.

  • Before you light the fire, make sure the fireplace damper is open.
  • Stock up on the right kind of kindling. You can use newspaper, small sticks and short, thin branches for your kindling.
  • Do not use kindling that is more than an inch in diameter.
  • Use dry hardwood logs for long-burning fires.
  • Do not use moist or unseasoned green wood in your fireplace or your fire will generate a lot of smoke. Ideal wood for a fire include oak and maple.
  • Never use painted wood or treated lumber in your fireplace. They will release toxic chemicals into your home.
  • Pay attention to the label when you buy artificial logs. The directions may include crucial warnings such as using only one artificial log at a time in a fireplace.
  • Invest in a mesh screen and keep the glass fireplace doors open during a fire. A mesh screen provides much better ventilation than closed fireplace doors. Poor ventilation will make the fire smoky.
  • Your fireplace is not a grill so refrain from using fire starters meant for outdoor cooking such as charcoal lighter fluid.
  • Do not leave a fire unattended or let it smolder until it goes out. Before you go to bed or leave the house, make sure the fire is out, separate any logs, close the screen or door and shut the damper.

Keep the Fireplace and Chimney in Good Condition

If your chimney does not have a cap, have one installed. It will help keep out small animals, snow and debris from trees. It will also prevent sparks from escaping the chimney and downdrafts from wind.

Schedule annual chimney sweeps. Over time, you chimney will accumulate soot, creosote and glaze. A chimney sweeping service will remove these deposits. If you fail to have your chimney cleaned by a professional your chimney will start to smell, develop blockages that could cause carbon monoxide to enter your house and begin to deteriorate from the acidic content of the buildup. Visit a site like to learn more about chimney cleaning.

In addition, you should get the chimney inspected after a severe storm. High winds can blow a chimney cap off and let snow and sleet enter the structure. Bad weather can also damage the bricks and roofing materials around the chimney.