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Summertime is the Perfect Time for Fireplace Maintenance!

With the hot, humid weather Wisconsin has been experiencing this summer, the last thing on your mind is making a fire in yourfireplace.However, this is theperfect time toconduct some essential fireplace maintenance that you are unlikely to do in the winter when it is more dangerous and less pleasant to be walking about on the roof. By following this guide now, you can be sure that your family is safe, cozy and warm all through the winter.
  • Have your chimney swept
    Creosote is a chemical that builds up in chimneys over time. Creosote is dangerous - it can ignite, causing a chimney fire - which is why it so important to sweep your chimney or hire someone to do it at least once a year. Also check for cracks, loose bricks and missing mortar, which can result in costly problems. Flue liners should also be inspected to ensure that they are in working order.
  • Up on the roof
    Take the time every year to clean around the top of the chimney. Needles, sticks, leaves and low hanging branes can build up and potentially cause a fire when they encounter rising hot air.

    If your chimney isn't already protected by a spark arrester - which is a mesh screen that goes on top of the chimney - invest in one to prevent rising sparks from escaping. Prevent water from entering your house through the chimney with a chimney cap.

    Finally, look down through the chimney and have someone open and close the damper, which is a metal flap designed to keep cold air out when your fireplace is not in use. Look to see if the damper is closing all the way - if not, you may be spending too much money on heating and cooling due to escaping air.
  • Clean your firebox
    Many homeowners neglect to clean their fireboxes as frequently as they should. You should try to clean out your firebox weekly if you have regular fires during the winter. Open the damper before shoveling soot into a non-flammable container in order to remove it from your home - this will allow airborne ash to exit your home. Don't use a vacuum cleaner to clean your firebox unless you haven't had a fire for at least a week - coals can stay hot enough to start a fire for several days
  • Protect your home
    Make sure that you have a hearth rug and a fire screen to keep sparks from starting a house fire. A spark screen works just like a spark arrester, but fits in front of your fireplace and prevents sparks from leaping into your home. A hearth rug is a non-flammable rug that goes in front of a fireplace, and will keep your floor from catching fire in case a spark does make it through.
Tip: Hire a chimney sweep in the spring and summer, as there is significantly more demand for the service in the months leading up to winter.

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