There’s nothing quite like snuggling up in front of a crackling fire on a cool autumn night. It can only be made better by making sure your fireplace is in good working order. With regular maintenance, your favorite source of warmth and ambience can provide you with year after year of faithful service.

So before lighting the first fire of the season, follow these 6 maintenance tips to diagnose common problems before they become expensive and potentially dangerous.

 1. Inspect Chimney Exterior

Head outside and inspect the chimney for any signs that repairs are necessary. Is it leaning? Notice any cracked or missing bricks? Are masonry joints chipped? If your chimney is exposed to your attic or basement, be sure to check there as well.

 2. Install or Replace Chimney Cap

A chimney cap can reduce damage caused by rain and snow, which can otherwise enter the chimney and subsequently freeze, thaw, and expand. Wildlife can nest in chimneys and potentially introduce other pests into your home. A secure chimney cap with a screen mesh can protect your chimney from damage while shielding your roof from sparks and embers.

 3. Check for Leaks

Head back inside and inspect the area around your chimney for signs of water intrusion. Leaks can be caused by faulty flashing around the chimney, a damaged flue liner, and a variety of other issues. If you do notice signs of water around your chimney, call a chimney professional right away.

 4. Inspect the Flue

Locate the clean-out door (located either in the basement or outside of the house). Open it and use a small mirror and flashlight to look up the flue. What you’re looking for is a build-up of soot as well as any cracks, holes, or separations. If you can’t get a good look, give your chimney pro a call.

 5. Inspect the Fireplace

Make sure your fireplace is in good working order. Check the brickwork for wear or damage, make sure the damper opens and closes with ease, and look up into the smoke chamber just above the damper to see if there is a build-up soot.

 6. Schedule Maintenance

Having your chimney and fireplace inspected by a certified chimney sweep can help avert serious problems, keep your venting system operating efficiently, and keep your family safe.

Yet if the maintenance that goas along with a wood-burning fireplace takes the romance out of owning one, we have a simple and practical solution: switch to a gas log fireplace, one that we can fit into your existing wood fireplace or install just about anywhere you like. Contact us today for more information.