Sitting by the fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate in your hands… what a delightful vision. To make the vision come true, you should get your fireplace ready first so that it works well and you stay safe.

Start off by removing the ashes from the fireplace with a fireplace shovel if you didn’t at the end of last season. Put them into a bucket. Throughout the winter, make sure that the ashes don’t build up to a depth greater than about 2 inches.

Use a shop vacuum with a filter bag to remove any ashes or other dry debris that are left.

If you want to remove the soot and fire stains from the firebox, spray on soapy water and let it sit for about 30 minutes. When the reside looks like it has softened, scrub the surface with a stiff wire brush.

Use a metal brush to remove rust and debris from the damper. Wear eye protection and gloves. Also, check that the damper mechanism works properly so that the damper can open and close.

Check that your chimney cap is in good shape and that is not clogged with leaves or debris.

If you have animals that get down into the chimney, a wire screen will keep them out.

Check the mortar between the bricks to make sure that it is not cracked or flaking away. Check the flashing where the roof meets the chimney and make sure that there is a watertight seal around the flashing. Patch it up with caulk if needed.

If you’re tired of dealing with all of this, consider a gas fireplace.


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