With the temperatures falling and the winter season fast approaching, most of us are already preparing our fireplace for the cold season. If you enjoy the heat and the crackling sound of burning firewood on your fireplace and you have not yet cleaned it recently, you are putting your health and that of your family at high risk.

Thus, before winter fully sets in, you should inspect your fireplace to ensure its safety. A fireplace inspection, just like the general home inspection, will point out flaws in your system and recommend cleaning and repair for maximum efficiency, which is why you should schedule one annually.

Why Do You Need to Prepare Your Fireplace for Winter

When you burn wood in your fireplace, it will release ash, creosote, and soot, which you will clean using conventional methods. Continuous use of your fireplace slowly deteriorates its state, creating the need for an inspection at least once a year.

An inspection is an effective way of preparing your fireplace for the winter. This is given that fireplace problems usually start as minor issues, and, if unchecked, they may progress and become worse over time. Identifying damaged areas through an inspection will curb potential hazards.

After a fireplace inspection, you will be aware of long-term issues like animal entry, cracks, and leaks and attend to them in their initial stages, which will save on costs. Thus, an inspection unveils structural issues for repair and gives you the peace of mind that your home and family are safe.

How Often Should You Clean Your Fireplace?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, you should clean your fireplace at least once a year to remove unwanted deposits and give it the correct clearances. This duration is also an equivalent of about 80 fires

Cleaning your fireplace ensures efficiency and keeps your family safe. Also, a regular inspection and cleaning will extend its life as you will detect damages and deterioration in advance and fix them.

If you use your fireplace often, you will equally have to clean it as often, especially if you notice an accumulation of about an eighth of soot, usually after burning a cord of wood. Thus, if you burn more than one cord, you will need to schedule a mid-winter sweeping.

home inspector checking fireplace

Why Should You Inspect and Clean Your Fireplace before the Winter Cold?

It is easy to forget your fireplace exists during the warm season, creating the need for an emergency inspection and cleaning, especially if you wait until the first day of fall. Waiting for winter to start may result in skipping cleanings and inspection, which is why you should set a reminder to schedule annual maintenance. This way, you will be confident enough to start a fire in your fireplace, knowing that your home is safe from the risks of a poorly maintained fireplace.

Here are more detailed reasons why you should clean your fireplace before the winter season.

Removal of Pests and Obstructions

Fireplaces have a cap that includes a protective screening to keep pests such as bats and birds from entering. Given the prolonged seasons of non-use, these caps can clog with leaves and sticks, attracting birds, squirrels, and bats, which come and make homes in these fireplaces. An inspector will check whether these obstructions are present and recommend cleaning services to remove them professionally without causing damage.

Unfortunately, most people neglect cleaning and inspection and light up a fire at the onset of winter, increasing the risk of fire outbreaks from clutter. Also, you risk carbon monoxide poisoning as the smoke will not escape completely through the chimney.

Fire Prevention

Over time, creosote, a highly flammable compound, will accumulate on your fireplace walls from burning wood. You may not notice this unless through the eyes of an inspector who will recommend cleaning to remove creosote and soot. Failure to remove creosote may result in house fires, given that a large buildup of this compound can burn longer at very high temperatures. This may end up damaging your fireplace and the surrounding walls. Given the dangers and toughness of removing creosote, you should hire professional cleaners to remove it from your fireplace walls to be safe.

Unveil Damages and Structural Issues

To ensure safety and efficiency, all the components of your fireplace, including the bricks and mortar, should be in good shape. High temperatures, weather, and corrosive compounds like creosote increase the chances of fireplace damage, and, if unchecked, these damages may go unnoticed until they are severe and expensive to repair.

To prevent the above issues and save on the costs, you should schedule a regular professional inspection. A professional will catch fireplace problems that you cannot usually assess using untrained eyes. Unveiling and repairing these problems early will save you high expenses in the future. Also, if you notice structural damages like cracks on bricks, you should hire a mason to do the repairs for you. Trying repair with regular mortar will be futile as this mixture is ineffective in the high fireplace heat.

Insurance Policies

Fireplaces pose risks to homeowners and can start fires if not properly maintained. For this reason, insurance companies require an annual fireplace inspection from every homeowner against fire prevention. Most of these companies will not cover claims for damages resulting from a fireplace unless you provide proof of annual maintenance. Sadly, most homeowners neglect this requirement until it is too late and incur huge expenses, fixing the repairs. Thus, you should check with your insurance company on this policy and get proper documentation after servicing your fireplace in case of a hazard.

Improved Efficiency

An efficient fireplace is a must-have, whether you want to reduce your heating costs or are generally concerned with the environment. A dirty or blocked fireplace will not effectively heat the room due to poor oxygen supply, and this may force you to use more wood at an abnormally fast rate, hence more costs.

Getting a fireplace inspection will point out the factors hindering your fireplace performance and recommend measures, including cleaning and other structural repairs, to ensure proper heating. With an efficient fireplace, you will enjoy more heat and less smoke hence a safe, warm and comfortable home at lower costs.

Prevent Water Damage

Most home inspectors report fireplace repairs relating to water damages. For this reason, your annual fireplace inspection should also include an inspection of the rooftop for leakages.  This is especially in snowy regions where the water can penetrate, expand, contract, and damage your fireplace. Assessing your fireplace for any water damages through regular inspections will enable you to catch these issues and address them before they escalate, preventing water damage to your home. This way, you will also save up on the high repair costs from extreme damages.

It is also advisable to do such repairs prewinter since it is more difficult to work with water and mortar during the cold season.

Prevention of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The fireplace features a flue liner, which is the first defense against carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires. It insulates it from high temperatures and corrosive compounds in smoke. It also prevents carbon monoxide and sparks from slipping to your home through the cracks on bricks and mortar.

If unchecked, creosote and soot can accumulate and corrode the liners, affecting their functionality. This, in turn, increases the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Thus, to be safe, you should hire a professional to check for such dysfunctionalities and recommend appropriate repair.

How To Find a Reliable  Fireplace Inspection and Cleaning Service Provider

Now that you understand the risks of a poorly maintained fireplace and the need for a professional annual inspection, you should know how to find a qualified fireplace inspector.

Given the risks surrounding a poorly maintained fireplace, you should look for a certified professional to do the work for you. Certification provides proof that your inspector understands and adheres to the best inspection and cleaning practices.

Your inspector should also have good reviews from the clients they served before. While certification provides proof of qualification, your inspector may not always offer quality services. The best way to learn about their quality of service is by inquiring about the experiences of others before making your decision.

Finally, even after finding a reliable inspector or cleaner, do not assume that they will be available for the cleaning and inspection when you call them. Since everyone is probably looking forward to the onset of winter to schedule their cleaning, you should check your inspector’s schedule and secure an appointment to avoid last-minute rush and frustrations.

Contact Us for Fireplace Inspection

Scheduling fireplace inspection and cleaning before the winter season are one of the best ways to improve efficiency. Inspection exposes problems such as loose bricks, which you should fix for an efficient fireplace. Thus, you should make fireplace inspection and cleaning an annual habit to ensure your home is safe. If you are looking for a certified home inspector and cleaner, do not hesitate to contact us today for professional services.